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Child pornography – there is help for the abuse that never ends

JANUARY 22, 2014
Contact: Kath Cummins

The trade in child pornography can turn sexual abuse into a lifetime of ongoing victimization, but there is help.

The Supreme Court will today hear arguments on restitution for victims of child pornography in the landmark case of Paroline v United States. The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Crime Victim Bar Association wants all victims to know that there are resources they can access to start rebuilding their lives.

“This case is bringing much-needed public awareness of the devastating life-long impact of this crime,” said Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

“Child pornography is not a victimless crime. It is a shadowy global marketplace where child rape is normalized as a commodity to be traded and distributed forever,” Ms Fernandez said.

“Our message to victims is – reach out: you are not alone. It is never to late to seek help. Your local rape crisis center, shelter or child advocacy center can help you access the mental health, legal and other services that you need,” she said.

Child pornography victims, including “Amy Unknown” – whose restitution is at issue in the Paroline case – accessed the legal representation they needed from attorneys affiliated with the National Crime Victim Bar Association. The NCVBA runs an attorney-referral helpline - 202 467 8716 - that is open to all crime victims, including victims of child abuse and child pornography who seek legal assistance.

“Many victims of child pornography have no idea that they may be entitled to restitution and that an attorney can help them bring a civil action,” said the Director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, Jeff Dion.

“No matter how old you are, if you were sexually abused as a child and the abuse was photographed or filmed, you can seek help today from a victim advocate or attorney,” said Mr Dion.

Amy Unknown was repeatedly raped by her uncle when she was eight years old. Videos and still images of her abuse have turned up in over 2500 instances, in police investigations worldwide.

NCVBA attorneys Paul Cassell, a former federal judge, and James Marsh, a New York based trial attorney and head of the Children’s Law Center are representing Amy Unknown. NCVBA attorney, Carol Hepburn represents another victim of child pornography whose claim for restitution in a different jurisdiction has been held over pending this ruling by the Supreme Court.

Victims of child sexual abuse can suffer from depression and anxiety; many attempt suicide or are unable to maintain relationships or employment over their lifetimes.

The marketplace for child pornography makes recovery from this kind of abuse particularly difficult. Victims know that their images continue to be used and traded for sexual gratification, and this may go on forever. Many fear being stalked by or recognized by viewers, and in some cases victims have been stalked and recognized. Many suffer from crushing guilt knowing that that their images will be used to groom new victims, or to persuade consumers of child pornography that child rape and abuse is enjoyable for the victim.


The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Crime Victim Bar Association Supreme Court amicus briefs in support of the victim “Amy Unknown” are available here:



National Center for Victims of Crime is working to improve the response to victims of child pornography through a project funded by the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. The National Center and its partner organizations, the National Children’s Alliance and the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, has been hearing directly from victims and their families—and the professionals who work with them—about their needs and the barriers they face in finding or accessing services. This important and sensitive work will identify promising treatments and policy responses to promote the recovery of child pornography victims.


The National Crime Victim Bar Association is an affiliate and program of the National Center for Victims of Crime. It was founded in April 1999, creating the nation's first professional association of attorneys and expert witnesses dedicated to helping victims seek justice through the civil system. Crime victims deserve compensation for the harms they have suffered, and third parties are increasingly held accountable through the civil justice system.

The NCVBA attorney help line is 202 467-8716.