Thursday, April 26, 2012

District court denies restitution to child pornography victim because government failed to prove damages

A federal district court has denied an award of restitution to "Cindy," an individual depicted in child pornography. United States v. Veazie, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57772 (D. Maine 2012). In the past, Cindy has been awarded restitution twelve times with awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, and she is seeking to recover approximately $71,000 total.

The court first determined that the defendant was the proximate cause of Cindy's harm. However, "[j]oint and several liability is inappropriate" because he did not cause all of her injuries, and it is possible that it can't be "imposed upon defendants in separate cases." The government did not present any specific evidence of damage caused by the defendant. "[T]he Government [has not] shown that Veazie even viewed one image of Cindy or compared the conduct of Veazie with the conduct of the defendants in the twelve other cases involving restitution awards to Cindy."

Because the government did not provide a method for determining damages caused by the defendant, the court was unable to award restitution. "[C]ourts may not speculate, and the Court cannot do so here."

For a more detailed look at how courts award restitution in child pornography cases, click here.


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