Texas judge refuses bid to make child porn users pay damages

The Christian Science Monitor

A federal judge in Texas Monday sentenced a man to two years in prison for possession of child porn, but refused to make him pay $3.4 million in restitution to the girl in the pictures. Prosecuting lawyers called the ruling a setback for victims of child porn.

The Paroline restitution case in Tyler, Texas, was seen as an important test of a tough anti-child pornography law in which federal prosecutors were seeking to impose the same high level of restitution on those found in possession of child pornography as would be imposed against those who physically abused a child, photographed the abuse, and distributed the images.

Prosecutors argued that the injury to the girl was ongoing as a result of those who continue to download images of her abuse.

The judge agreed that the abuse was ongoing, but he decided that it did not justify holding a defendant in a possession case to the same level of financial responsibility as an individual who carried out the physical abuse and created the child pornography.

Amy's lawyer, James Marsh of New York, has filed 250 restitution requests on her behalf in child pornography cases across the country. He said he was disappointed in Judge Davis's ruling.

"The court's decision is a serious set-back for victims of child pornography like Amy in their effort to obtain just and timely restitution for the ongoing crimes perpetrated against them," Mr. Marsh said in a written statement.

"How can we, as a country, justify awarding tens of thousands of dollars in damages to record companies for downloading a single song, while criminals who exploit children pay nothing," he said.

Marsh says it is now up to Congress, the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals, and the US Supreme Court to take up the issue.

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Filed Under Child Pornography News Paroline Restitution 

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