The New Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act: A Positive Step Towards Full Restitution for Child Pornography Victims

Federal Sentencing Reporter, Feb. 2019, Vol. 31, Issue 3, Forthcoming

University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 296

18 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2019 Last revised: 2 Feb 2019

See all articles by Paul G. Cassell

Paul G. Cassell

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

James R. Marsh

Marsh Law Firm PLLC

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

Providing restitution to victims of child pornography crimes has proven to be a challenge for courts across the country. Child pornography is often widely disseminated to countless thousands of criminals who have a prurient interest in such materials. While the victims of child pornography crimes often have significant financial losses from the crimes (such as the need for long term psychological counseling), allocating a victim’s losses to any particular criminal defendant is problematic.

Five years ago, the Supreme Court gave its answer on how to resolve this issue with its ruling in Paroline v. United States. Interpreting a restitution statute enacted by Congress, the Court concluded that in a child pornography prosecution, a restitution award from a particular defendant is only appropriate to the extent that it reflects “the defendant’s relative role in the causal process that underlies the victim’s general losses.”

In the ensuing years, lower courts have struggled to implement this holding. Just recently, Congress stepped in to ensure that victims will receive appropriate restitution. In November 2018, the Senate and House resolved their differences in how to handle the issue, passing the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018 (or “AVAA” for short). President Trump signed the legislation into law on December 7, 2018.

In this article, we describe the impact of this important new legislation. We set the stage by describing the need for restitution for child pornography victims, using the story of the lead victim in the Act (“Amy”) as an illustration of why restitution is needed. We then turn to the problematic legal regime that was created by the Supreme Court’s Paroline decision, noting some of the confusion in the lower courts following the ruling. Against this backdrop, we then discuss the AVAA, explaining how it will be a useful step forward for victims of these crimes. One even more important possibility is that the Act could set a precedent for expanding restitution for victims in the future.

Keywords: Child Pornography Crimes, Restitution

Suggested Citation

Cassell, Paul G. and Marsh, James R., The New Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act: A Positive Step Towards Full Restitution for Child Pornography Victims (2019). Federal Sentencing Reporter, Feb. 2019, Vol. 31, Issue 3, Forthcoming; University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 296. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317733 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3317733

Paul G. Cassell (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-585-5202 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)

James R. Marsh

Marsh Law Firm PLLC ( email )

Box 4668
New York, NY 10163-4668
United States
212-372-3030 (Phone)
833-210-3336 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jamesmarshlaw.com

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