New York sex abuse victim attorney, James Marsh, discusses the issues in the Paroline v. United States case where he represented “Amy”, a victim of child pornography, recover damages from a man in possession of pornographic images of her when she was a child.
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In issues in the Paroline case, which was the first case before the United States Supreme Court in which a victim actually got to argue on their own behalf was – it’s a very complicated legal issue but in some ways it’s a very simple issue. And the issue is what kind of compensation are victims entitled to from an individual who downloaded and possessed their child’s sex abuse images on the internet. So what’s interesting about this case is it really is sort of a merger of not only internet law but also criminal law and also crime victim’s law along with child pornography.
And so the whole issue before the court was how do we determine what an amount an individual on the internet who’s breaking federal law, who has violated and often pled guilty to some very serious charges of trafficking in child pornography, possessing and downloading it, what kind of compensation does that individual owe the victim of the crimes in which he’s possessing. And so that was really the narrow issue for the court to determine. A much broader issue, of course, involved victims’ rights, proximate cause for suability of their crime, apportionment of the harm, how much any individual can owe anyone else in a world where thousands if not millions of individuals are participating in this behavior. So ti’s really a ground breaking case with ground breaking issues on the very edge of the law involving a variety of issues of which there were several firsts.