Appeals court ruling in Texas case could ease path for child porn victims to get restitution

Washington Post

HOUSTON - Victims of child pornography around the country could have an easier time getting restitution from those convicted of possessing such images, according to a federal appeals court ruling this week in a Texas case.

But legal experts say the issue now may have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court because courts throughout the United States are split on how to award such compensation.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that federal restitution law doesn't generally require victims to specifically detail how an individual defendant has harmed them in order to receive restitution.

"It's a big deal," Jeff Bellin, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said of the 5th Circuit's ruling. "This is clearly the most significant victory that proponents of this type of interpretation (of restitution law) have had in the courts so far."

If victims like Amy had to specifically detail all the losses they have suffered as a result of individuals like Paroline, "they would basically get nothing," said Paul Cassell, one of Amy's attorneys.

Cassell, who also is a law professor at the University of Utah, said individuals like Paroline harm victims simply by viewing images of them.

"It's psychiatric death by a thousand cuts because she is being harmed over and over again by these faceless, nameless criminals who are looking at these images over and over again," Cassell said.

Cassell said about a third of the $3.4 million Amy is asking for, which is paying for lifetime counseling costs and lost income, has already been recovered from other claims around the country.

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Filed Under Child Pornography News Paroline Restitution 

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