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Allocating Liability for Child Pornography, in Full or Fractional Shares

WASHINGTON — The notices arrive almost every day. They tell a young woman named Amy, as she is called in court papers, that someone has been charged with possessing child pornography. She was the child.

“It is hard to describe what it feels like to know that at any moment, anywhere, someone is looking at pictures of me as a little girl being abused by my uncle and is getting some kind of sick enjoyment from it,” Amy, then 19, wrote in a 2008 victim impact statement. “It’s like I am being abused over and over and over again.” Full Article

Join the discussion

  1. Janice Bellucci

    What has happened to Amy is truly terrible, but justice isn’t being served by forcing a man who viewed what happened to bear the total cost of Amy’s expenses. Law enforcement needs to devote their resources upon stopping any further distribution of pornographic images of Amy. It is the distribution that is causing additional harm to Amy and others like her who have been harmed.

  2. Q

    After reading the article I cant help but to feel that “AMY” will never be able to put this behind her and get on with her life as long as she allows herself to be used by the courts in this way. She, in all likelihood will come to rely on people being forced to “give” her money, that is if she hasn’t already become dependent on this. The article also makes me wonder why not very many other “crimes” require payment from the defendant. After reading about the Roman Polanski case I have to wonder just how many of these “victims” actually consider themselves victims before the courts and police get hold of them.

    The “victim” in the Polanski case said ” It wasn’t Roman who made my life miserable. It was the people who treated him unfairly at the time and now had him arrested in Switzerland. And — nothing against you — the press made my life miserable. Roman didn’t intend for any of that.”

    She went on to say “At any rate, I was never as devastated and traumatized as people claimed I was. What I still don’t understand is that if everyone felt that what Roman did was so terrible, why do they still want to see me as a deeply traumatized victim? Oh, Polanski did this to you — but why, then, aren’t you in worse shape?”

    This part is very telling about what is really going on. ” I’m also a feminist. I understand the motives of the women who attacked me publicly. But they wanted me to feel like a victim, because only a deeply hurt victim could truly benefit them and their cause. But I wasn’t one. To this day, I don’t feel that I was a victim of Roman, but rather a victim of the public, the courts and the media.”

    This really makes me wonder; just who is REALLY victimizing Amy when ever someone gets arrested for looking at one of her pictures?

  3. B

    I think this is a very interesting issue from the standpoint of damages. There are two categories of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are actual, verifiable damages that you can calculate. Non-economic damages are punitive damages and other such things that are far more difficult to calculate.

    In this case, if I am reading this correctly, all of the $3.4 million in damages are economic damages which include the costs of attorneys and a lifetime of therapy. I don’t know about the laws in other states, but in California, the economic damages are apportioned under “joint and several” which means that once the amount of the damages are calculated, all of the guilty parties are subject to any or all of it. Regarding non-economic damages, the guilty parties are subject to the proportion corresponding to their proportion of guilt.

    So none of the damages are punitive in nature–all of them are the actual costs that the victim will incur as a result of the crimes against her. For those professionals in this field, does that sound about right? Are those real numbers?

  4. KathieG.

    This young woman can opt out of notification. Then she won’t have to feel like she is being abused over and over again.
    Seems like the uncle who was the actual abuser got off pretty easy.

  5. FRegistryTerrorists

    These “notifications” are nonsense. What a way to keep the victim-hood going. It is also nonsense to give victims money from people who have done no more than view the photos or videos of the abuse.

    If it were not nonsense, then anyone viewing a video of me being illegally beaten by law enforcement would be obligated to give me money. It’s ridiculous.

    As another example, why is it not even illegal to watch a video of someone committing the crime of murdering someone? And surely the victim in that case should be paid by all viewers.

    Forcing viewers of sexual abuse to compensate the victim is just more of the Sex Offender Witch Hunt. Sex is the only reason people dream it is legitimate. Or am I really missing something?

    • ocguy

      Good point… an example: currently, the trial du jour in Orange County (the OCDA being the king of RSO ordinances) is the Kelly Thomas trial, the prosecution of two police officers who beat to death an unarmed, mentally unstable man. Why not all 6 officers involved are not charged with nothing less than murder puzzles me but is beside the point.

      It is fairly obvious that the main / only reason that the DA is prosecuting this crime is the availability of graphic photos of the victim and videos of the attack, and the resulting public outcry from the recordings.

      I have seen the shocking image of Mr. Thomas in the hospital. When this story first broke I watched the first eye-witness video on youtube which was mostly audio. Of a graphic murder. It rocked me to my core. This was a person being killed, screaming for help, begging for his life, in Dolby Digital.

      The point being that, if either of the two defendants is convicted of anything, I have witnessed a crime. Using the logic used in this case, I have, again, victimized Kelly Thomas. Who hasn’t seen the hospital photo? Every time anyone looks at the photo or views / listens to the video this man is re-victimized. What is to stop him (or his estate) to come after me, or anyone who has seen or posted the evidence, for their mental anguish knowing that these crime scene recordings are out there?

      What happened to the toddler Amy is hideous and terrible. But the notion that a completely unrelated person watching that crime is worse than viewing a murder is absurd.

  6. Sayin'

    There are two important areas of consideration here,in my opinion. One is that there is no way of telling what is in the mind of someone, who views an image. the best illustration of that is the fact that authorities, tasked with the job, view these images thousands of times over, as they gather evidence to prosecute. what culpability do they have? Are they presumed to be looking at these images clinically, and if so, that is a big assumption. Also, according to recent research, and studies which have been submitted to the DOJ, and Federal Sentencing Commission with regard to the need to revisit the overly harsh sentences, on the federal level, for cp viewers, they have found that there are many reasons that people, who possess these images, view them. Sometimes, for instance, some do it out of curiosity. Some viewers are interested, due to the socially taboo aspect of the subject matter. Some viewers are victims of having the material planted on their pc, and they truly have no interest in the subject. Also, to be considered is that many viewers really have no idea what to expect, when they open a file, since titles can be misleading, and some files have no titles. Until science, and technology can devise a way that makes evident the intent of a person upon viewing these images, basing any kind of restitution fines to be given to the victim is ludicrous. The second problem is that while I personally understand that there is a need to address the exploitation of the victim, it is hard for me to believe Amy’s contention that when she walks down the street, and sees a man, she doesn’t know if he viewed her image, as a child, and she is further victimized. That is quite a bit of a stretch involving her imagination. She would no longer be recognizable, having grown to maturity, and a mentally healthy victim should be able to move on from thinking those kinds of thoughts. I don’t see that she is further exploited, by this kind of awareness. Her uncle, as the producer, is the most identifiable perpetrator in the horrifc exploitation she suffered, and it is he who should bear the predominant responsibility.

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