The possession and distribution of child pornography is a terrible crime, often with steep criminal penalties for the perpetrators. For years, however, the victims of child pornography could not recover damages against the viewers and distributors of the terrible images, despite the fact that victims are regularly reminded of his/her abuse whenever the photos turn up on the Internet or in another criminal prosecution.
Now, though, many courts allow victims of child pornography to recover civil damages against the creators, distributors, and possessors of child pornography.
Federal law allows victims whose images are used in child pornography to file a civil lawsuit to recover the “full amount of the victim’s losses,” including costs related to medical services, physical therapy, lost income, attorneys’ fees, and well as other incurred costs. In an early case, decided in 2009, a former executive at a large pharmaceutical company was sued after being convicted of possessing thousands of images of child pornography; the judge awarded the victim $200,000.
More recently, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in a case in which a young woman claimed $3.4 million in damages against a man who possessed images of her rape as an 8-year-old. The case offers the Court an opportunity to settle disagreements over whether the victim can recover the full amount of damages against a single possessor. The Court has not made a final decision, but there is no doubt the ruling will seriously impact the rights of exploited children. Thankfully, in Pennsylvania, some courts have already decided victims can recover the full amount of their damages against a single possessor of child pornography.
Andreozzi + Foote has represented survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault across the country. If you or someone you know has fallen victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault, and has been depicted in images of child pornography, do not hesitate to call our office. We do not charge for phone consultations, and will do everything we can to help point you in the right direction.