AG REYES LEADS EFFORT URGING SWIFT PASSAGE OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY BILL
Bipartisan Group of 54 AGs Calls on Congress to Support Victims of Child Pornography
SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes led a bipartisan group of 54 state and territorial attorneys general in calling upon the United States Congress to pass legislation supporting victims of child pornography. The states of Utah and Washington led the coalition by drafting a letter which was joined by fifty-two other states and territories.
The bipartisan bill, known as The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017, would make it easier for victims of child pornography to obtain restitution. A similar bill passed the U.S. Senate in 2015 but failed to pass the House of Representatives. The letter is directed to House and Judiciary Committee leaders. Today AG Reyes issued the following statement:
“Victims need this bill. Child exploitation and abuse through pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes worldwide and certainly within our nation. A victim can be re-victimized his/her entire life from the dissemination of one child porn video. The number of children exploited globally has skyrocketed. The number of child porn images in the US processed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children increased by over two thousand percent in just a decade, and things have continued to get even worse,”
“The number of illicit images confiscated in Utah by the AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce has grown alarmingly. Cases of youth being extorted or otherwise terrorized as victims of porn have risen exponentially everywhere. The only thing that has decreased is restitution for victims. That’s unacceptable. Congress can change that narrative by passing this law.
“I’m proud of all our colleagues who have joined us today in lending a voice to victims worldwide. It was a privilege partnering with Senator Orrin Hatch, a consistent advocate for children in need and a co-sponsor of this bill. I also want to thank those in the Utah victim advocate community. Powerful leaders like Hildegard Koenig in the Utah Office for Victims of Crime, Jim Swink from the Utah Council on Victims of Crime, University of Utah Law Professor Paul Cassell, Clay Olsen of Fight the New Drug, and Ruthie Pedregon of my office all stand up each day for victims throughout Utah.”
A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Paroline v. United States held that while victims of child pornography are entitled to restitution, any individual defendant they sue is only liable for the harm caused by that one individual’s possession of the images.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision puts an enormous burden on victims of child pornography,” the letter from the AG coalition reads. “To receive restitution, a victim must pursue every case in which a defendant was found to possess images of the victim. As the Supreme Court recognized, digital images of each child victim are trafficked worldwide, and there may be thousands of defendants found to possess each victim’s images. As a result, victims are only able to receive a small amount of restitution from each defendant and must pursue thousands of cases to receive full restitution. Preventing victims from collecting full restitution protects defendants, who are shielded from having to pay meaningful costs to those they have harmed.”
The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act will improve the law by:
- Clarifying congressional intent that victims be fully compensated for all the harms resulting from every perpetrator who contributed to their trauma;
- Establishing a more meaningful definition of “full amount of a victim’s losses;”
- Clarifying restitution owed to victims;
- Establishing a process for victims to receive compensation from the Child Pornography Victims Reserve within the federal Crime Victims Fund;
- Requiring a judicial appointment of a guardian ad litem for victims of child pornography production;
- Allowing victims and their attorneys access to images in which they are depicted which is crucial for victim identification, expert testimony, forensic review, treatment, and the prevention and prosecution of future crimes; and
- Requiring the U.S. Department of Justice to report on implementation within two years.
Every state attorney general in the nation signed the letter, along with attorneys general from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
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- You can find a PDF copy of the letter at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NAAG-Final-Child-Pornography-Victim-bill.pdf.
- The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Utah with attorneys and staff in 20 divisions across the state. Visit attorneygeneral.utah.gov to learn more.