Hoeven: Senate Passes Legislation to Help Victims of Child Pornography

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Senate passed the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act, legislation he cosponsored that will establish a restitution process for victims of child pornography in a way that recognizes the harm caused to the victim by the possession of these materials. The legislation, introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), has 39 bipartisan cosponsors.

“Currently, federal law dictates that in child exploitation cases the defendant must deliver restitution for ‘the full amount of the victim’s losses,’” Hoeven said. “However, when it comes to child pornography, the damage occurs on so many different levels that it can be difficult to define, and victims are left with the burden of proving how possession of these images harmed their lives.

“The trauma that these victims go through should not have to be replayed in order for them to receive restitution, and this bill will help to ensure that the defendants are held accountable for their actions by streamlining the restitution process.”

The bill mandates that:

  • If a victim was harmed by a single defendant, the defendant must pay full restitution for all his/her losses
  • If a victim was harmed by multiple individuals, including those not yet identified, a judge can impose restitution on an individual defendant in two ways depending on the circumstances of the case:

o The defendant must pay “the full amount of the victim’s losses” or, if less than the full amount

o At least $250,000 for production, $150,000 for distribution or $25,000 for possession

The bill has 39 bipartisan cosponsors, and is also supported by major victims’ groups, including National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Organization for Victim Assistance, National Crime Victim Law Institute, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and National Center for Victims of Crime. Last year, Attorneys General of 43 states, including North Dakota, wrote a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee in support of the bill.