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Courts Mull Restitution for Victims of Child Porn

Some argue that monetary damages are civil, not criminal matter
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2010 11:14 AM CST
Courts Mull Restitution for Victims of Child Porn
Employees work at the Child Victim Identification Program at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The latest conundrum in child pornography law is restitution, as courts try to nail down whether simply possessing offending images constitutes harm to the victim—and how much that damage is worth. A year ago, a man in possession of 10-year-old pictures of “Amy” was ordered to pay her $200,000 in the first criminal case of its kind. Defense lawyers and even some experts aren’t happy about the precedent.

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“Amy” has now made requests of restitution averaging $3.4 million each in 350 criminal possession cases nationwide. A Florida court ordered a man to pay her $3.5 million solely because “he possessed her image on his computer approximately 10 years after that image had been manufactured,” his lawyer complains. Questions of responsibility aside, an expert tells the AP, “it just isn’t appropriate for criminal court” to make decisions on restitution. Poppycock, says an advocate. “There’s a victim, and there’s a real harm.” (Read more child pornography stories.)

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