Impact Advocacy

Advocating for Victims in the Supreme Court

On June 27, 2013, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review a case brought by the Marsh Law Firm concerning criminal restitution for victims of child pornography.


The Court agreed to decide “what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant’s conduct and the victim’s harm or damages must the government or the victim establish in order to recover restitution under 18 U.S.C. §2259,” the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act of 1994.

The case, Paroline v. United States, arises out of a long-fought and extensively litigated criminal restitution action which began almost four years ago before Judge Leonard Davis in the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division.

Last January the defendant, Doyle Randall Paroline, filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court seeking review of last year’s momentous Fifth Circuit en banc decision which significantly expanded the rights of child pornography victims to receive criminal restitution.

Amy’s personal story was recently chronicled in this front-page New York Times Magazine feature story by noted journalist and author Emily Bazelon.

The case was heard by the Court on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

For complete details about the case, including the fourteen amicus briefs filed on behalf of victims visit Marsh Law Firm’s ChildLaw blog.

Advocating for Victims in Court

American Bar Association Journal – Pricing Amy: Should Those Who Download Child Pornography Pay the Victims? (September 1, 2012)

The ABA Journal is read by half of the nation’s 1 million lawyers every month. It covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue

The Marsh Law Firm is featured in the September 2012 issue which highlights our efforts to obtain criminal restitution for victims of child pornography and child exploitation. One of our clients, Amy, has taken the lead in a four year fight which has taken us to every federal district court and every Circuit Court in the nation.

From the ABA Journal:

Amy and her lawyer are, however, fighting back. Her battle is part of a series of cases—now wending their way through the federal courts—trying to help the victims of child pornography by seeking financial restitution, not from the perpetrator but from the untold number of people who subsequently download their pornographic images.

Amy could be considered the leader in this legal trend. Her pictures are among the most widely traded in the underground world of online child pornography.

Under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, the government must notify Amy and other child pornography victims anytime anyone is arrested by federal authorities for possessing their images. Her attorney, James Marsh of New York City, says his office has received at least 1,500 required notices of federal prosecutions for possession of those images. “The day after we were retained in 2008, we had someone open up all these notices she received in the calendar years 2006 and 2007,” Marsh says. “It took two days just to open the envelopes.”

Using the restitution provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, Marsh has begun utilizing the courts to request financial restitution from those convicted of possessing images of Amy’s child sexual abuse.

The novel and controversial requests don’t seek to hold possessors responsible for the original exploitation of Amy. Rather, they seek restitution under VAWA, as authorized by the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, for harm done to Amy each time someone downloads her uncle’s pornographic images of her.

For more information about Amy and the Marsh Law Firm’s groundbreaking effort to obtain criminal restitution, click here for press clipping and news summaries.

Advocating for Victims in Congress

In 1998, a Russian orphan girl named Mariya Nikolaevna Yashenkova (also known as Masha Allen) was targeted by a sophisticated child pedophile network.

Mariya was adopted internationally at age five by a single American man named Matthew Mancuso who raped and sexually abused her for six years. Throughout this period, Mancuso memorialized his ongoing exploitation of Masha by producing hundreds of child sex abuse images which he distributed on the Internet to other pedophiles.

In late 2006, the Marsh Law Firm was instrumental in enhancing the federal civil legal rights of children who are victims of child pornography. Borrowing from intellectual property and victims’ rights law, our firm helped draft, introduce and pass—in just seven months—a comprehensive update to a long-forgotten federal law which gives victims the right to sue anyone who produces, distributes or possess their child sex abuse images. Masha’s Law provides statutory damages of $150,000 for each violation of federal child pornography provisions and was incorporated into the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act [Pub.L. 109-248] signed by President Bush on July 27, 2006.

Thanks to our work, victims of child pornography and sexual exploitation have a newly invigorated federal statutory right in every federal district court in the country to pursue their victimizers. No longer will children have to suffer in silence relegated to permanent unseen and unheard victims of this horrible crime. Now everyone who profits from and participates in these evil acts will be held accountable not only criminally, but financially.

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