Online Viewer of Child Pornography Ordered to Pay Restitution to the Victim

New York Law Journal

A man caught with pornographic images of a girl being sexually abused by her uncle has been ordered to pay restitution of nearly $50,000 to the victim, even though the defendant was a viewer of illegal images collected from the Internet who has never met the uncle or the girl.

Northern District of New York Judge Gary L. Sharpe decided that a mere "consumer" of child pornography is culpable to some degree for the emotional and psychological damage suffered by sex abuse victims under 18 U.S.C. §2259(b)(1), which allows awarding compensation for the "care required to address the long term effects of their [victims'] abuse."

While federal courts, including those in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, have upheld restitution in instances where contact between children and their abusers provided the requisite causation under U.S.C. §2259, a "more difficult question" for federal courts has been in cases involving the absence of direct causation between a victim's injuries and a pornographer's actions, Sharpe ruled in United States v. Aumais, 08-cr-711

Before sentencing, the U.S. government sought restitution for Amy, a request that was joined by her attorney, James R. Marsh.

Marsh said authorities have now interceded in more than 500 cases seeking restitution for Amy. Under the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004, government prosecutors in most cases must pursue restitution claims if children who are victims of sex crimes request they do so.

"We're very happy with this decision," Marsh said Tuesday. "The magistrate judge made a very well-reasoned analysis of the proximate cause issue. We were disappointed about his finding on the future wages issue."

Told of Primomo's plan to appeal, Marsh, who has expanded his New York firm to deal with child pornography restitution cases, said he welcomed the appeal.

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