Attorney General Olens and 33 of his colleagues have filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief in the Supreme Court of the United States supporting full restitution for child pornography victims. The issue in the case, Paroline v. Amy Unknown and the United States, No. 12-8561, is the extent to which victims of child pornography can recover money (restitution) from those who market, possess or trade images depicting sexual assault and rape of children.

The proliferation of the Internet has brought a surge in the marketing, trading and possession of child pornography. This has led to more children being victims and increased trafficking of children to meet the demand for new graphic depictions of sexual assault.

“Child pornography is a heinous crime,” said Olens. “Many victims require counseling and other treatment throughout their lives. They deserve be fully compensated under federal law for the tremendous harms they have suffered.”

Under federal law, a victim may ask to be compensated during the trial of someone accused of possessing images of the victim. However, the courts rarely award victims full restitution, often finding that the victim cannot prove exactly what losses resulted from the defendant’s actions.

The attorneys general argue in the amicus brief that by enacting the Mandatory Restitution law in 1977 (18 U.S.C. § 2259), Congress directed the courts to order defendants to provide ‘full recovery’ for the damages suffered by victims of child pornography.

Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Washington and Wyoming, and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands also joined the brief.