WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet.
The justices said in a 5-4 ruling that a 1994 federal law gives victims the right to seek restitution from offenders, but only to the extent that the victim’s losses are tied to the offenders’ actions. In this case, Doyle Randall Paroline was held liable by a federal appeals court for the entire amount of the woman’s losses, though his computer contained just two images of her, among more than 150 illicit photographs.
The case involved a woman known by the pseudonym “Amy.” Her losses for psychological care, lost income and attorneys’ fees have been pegged at nearly $3.4 million, based on the ongoing use of images of her uncle raping her.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that the appellate judges went too far when they said that Paroline was responsible for all of the woman’s losses.
A federal judge now will work out what Paroline should pay the woman.