Attorney General Ken Paxton today joined a 55-member state and territorial attorneys general coalition urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017 (AVAA), named for the victims of some of the world’s most despicable child pornography cases. The legislation establishes guidelines for restitution and seeks to ensure that victims receive timely and meaningful restitution.
The need for AVAA stems from a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Paroline v. United States), which held that while child pornography victims are entitled to restitution, each defendant is statutorily liable only for the proximate injury his possession of the images caused. That ruling prevents child pornography victims from receiving full restitution unless they pursue every case in which a defendant was found to possess images of them.
“As the Supreme Court recognized, digital images of each child victim are trafficked worldwide, and there may be thousands of defendants found to possess each victim’s image,” Attorney General Paxton and his counterparts wrote in a letter to House leadership and the House Judiciary Committee. “As a result, victims are only able to receive a small amount of restitution from each defendant and must pursue thousands of cases in order to receive full restitution. Preventing victims from collecting full restitution is unjust to those harmed by the scourge of child pornography. This legislation is vital to protecting victims and our communities.”
AVAA passed in the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent in January and is now before the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. It comes at a time when the surge in child pornography on the Internet has led to increased victimization and trafficking of increasingly younger children.
In Texas, the Child Exploitation Unit of Attorney General Paxton’s office remains vigilant when it comes to identifying and capturing child predators. Since its inception in 2013, the unit has made 274 arrests for possession/promotion of child pornography and obtained 520 convictions. The human trafficking unit, which was formed by Attorney General Paxton in 2015, has so far made 30 arrests resulting in 30 convictions.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington and Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah led the letter, and Texas joined all state attorneys general in signing, along with attorneys general from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
View the coalition’s letter here: http://bit.ly/2tlw7SL