Supreme Court considers child pornography liability issue

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Child Pornagraphy on Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Last month, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could impact certain sex offender defendants in significant financial ways. Specifically, the Court has been asked to decide the issue of full versus fractional financial liability in a case involving child pornography.

The case before the Court involves a woman named Amy. Amy was abused as a child. The sexual images taken of her as a child are among the most popular child pornography images in the world. Amy’s attorney insists that more than 70,000 people worldwide have viewed these illegal images of Amy.

One of these viewers is the defendant whose financial liability for harm done to Amy is at issue in the case. The man was convicted of possessing nearly 300 pornographic images of children in 2009. Among those images were pictures of Amy. Amy’s attorney has argued that under a 1994 federal restitution law, victims like Amy may seek full restitution for the harm done to them from anyone convicted of viewing their images.

If the justices embrace this interpretation of the law, the single defendant in this case could be held liable for Amy’s overall harm, which is estimated in financial terms to be $3.4 million. Attorneys for the opposing view insist that any one defendant can only be held liable for the fraction of harm that he or she caused a victim.

Whether the Court decides uphold a full or fractional theory of liability in cases involving child pornography victims, this ruling will significantly affect both defendants and victims for years to come.

Source: New York Times, “Justices Seem Stumped on Calculating Damages Over Child Pornography,” Adam Liptak, Jan. 22, 2014