Monday, August 27, 2012

Should Those Who Download Child P_rn Pay the Victims, Rapists Seeking Custody

Pricing Amy: Should Those Who Download Child Pornography Pay the Victims?
Sep 1, 2012 By Lorelei Laird

....It started like so many other instances of child exploitation: Amy’s uncle showed her pornography and then began raping her on a regular basis.

Amy recalls telling him the penetration hurt, but it kept happening. And like most child victims, she trusted him when he told her it was a normal thing adults do with children, that he loved her and that it was their special secret, according to her victim impact statement. The uncle was eventually arrested and incarcerated. Amy grew into her teenage years and, with the help of therapy, seemed to be growing into a relatively happy, healthy, normal teenager, according to court documents. Then the other shoe dropped: Amy learned that her uncle had photographed the abuse and put the images online, creating a permanent record of her agonizing abuse.

It’s not exactly clear when Amy’s pictures began circulating online, but court records indicate the digital images date back to as early as 1998.

Amy, now in her early 20s, began sliding backward in her recovery. Court filings indicate that she suffers from depression, is withdrawn and anxious, and has a history of alcohol abuse. She’s been unable to succeed in college or work and is reluctant to socialize. While some experiences still trigger bad memories, she’s more concerned about being recognized in public by people who downloaded “her” images....

Under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, the government must notify Amy and other child pornography victims anytime anyone is arrested by federal authorities for possessing their images. Her attorney, James Marsh of New York City, says his office has received at least 1,500 required notices of federal prosecutions for possession of those images. “The day after we were retained in 2008, we had someone open up all these notices she received in the calendar years 2006 and 2007,” Marsh says. “It took two days just to open the envelopes.”....

Almost any time Marsh receives a notice of prosecution on Amy’s behalf, he files a formal request for more than $3 million to cover all of Amy’s psychological treatment, lost income and attorney fees. Marsh believes Amy is the first child pornography victim to use federal crime victim restitution laws in this way, and one of a very few nationwide. He knows of two other victims pursuing this strategy, including “Vicky,” another young woman whose victimization as a child is recorded in widely traded images. A third victim’s lawyer pursuing a similar strategy did not return calls for this article....

Masha’s Law, part of the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which permits young adults to sue those who download images of their childhood sexual abuse.....

American Bar Association Journal—Pricing Amy: Should Those Who Download Child Pornography Pay the Victims? By James R. Marsh on August 27, 2012

This feature article about the Marsh Law Firm's efforts to secure restituiton for victims of child pornography appears in this month's American Bar Association Journal which is read by over one million attorneys and corporate counsel worldwide. Here are several excerpts from Pricing Amy: Should Those Who Download Child Pornography Pay the Victims?

    It’s not exactly clear when Amy’s pictures began circulating online, but court records indicate the digital images date back to as early as 1998.

    Amy and her lawyer are, however, fighting back. Her battle is part of a series of cases—now wending their way through the federal courts—trying to help the victims of child pornography by seeking financial restitution, not from the perpetrator but from the untold number of people who subsequently download their pornographic images.

    Amy could be considered the leader in this legal trend. Her pictures are among the most widely traded in the underground world of online child pornography.

    Using the restitution provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, Marsh has begun utilizing the courts to request financial restitution from those convicted of possessing images of Amy’s child sexual abuse.

Imagine You Were Raped. Got Pregnant. Then Your Rapist Sought Custody.

It happens—and in many states there are no laws to keep rapists from terrorizing their victims all over again. Read on, Todd Akin.
—By Dana Liebelson and Sydney Brownstone  Fri Aug. 24, 2012

The debate over Rep. Todd Akin's widely condemned comments on "legitimate rape" has largely centered on abortion and Republican efforts to outlaw the procedure, even in cases of rape. But the controversy has also uncovered a little-discussed issue: When some rape victims do choose to give birth to a child conceived through sexual assault, they find that the legal door is left wide open for their victimization to continue. It sounds unfathomable, but in many states the law makes it possible for rapists to assert their parental rights and use custody proceedings as a weapon against their victims....

Part of the problem is that many rapes go unprosecuted. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 9 out of every 100 rapes are prosecuted and just 5 lead to a felony conviction. But of the 19 states that have laws addressing the custody of rape-conceived children, 13 require proof of conviction in order to waive the rapist's parental rights. Two more states have provisions on the issue that only apply if the victim is a minor or, in one of those cases, a stepchild or adopted child of the rapist. Another three states don't have laws that deal with custody of a rapist's child specifically, but do restrict the parental rights of a father or mother who sexually abused the other parent.  

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