This novel – and controversial – strategy is the brainchild of New York lawyer James Marsh. He represents a 20-year-old woman who was raped and sexually abused at age 8 or 9 by an uncle who recorded the abuse and sent the images to a pedophile who requested them. The resulting still photographs have been actively traded on the Internet since 1998.
The woman is identified in court papers as "Amy," and photos of her form the basis of the $3.2 million restitution order in Florida. Her pictures have been among seized materials in more than 700 child pornography cases.
Mr. Marsh has filed restitution claims on Amy's behalf in 200 cases pending in federal court. "For the first time, victims are coming forward to seek restitution under a federal statute which by and large has never been utilized," he says.
At the moment, only two child victims are seeking restitution in ongoing child pornography possession cases. The other victim, who is not represented by Marsh, is a 19-year-old from Washington State who was sexually assaulted by her father when she was 10 and 11. He photographed the abuse and distributed the images on the Internet, where they continue to be downloaded and viewed.
Marsh says he is not seeking restitution for the original crime of sexual assault of a child. His claims on Amy's behalf are based on the idea that those who possess images of his client's abuse are guilty of a current violation of her privacy rights.