An article in the January 24 New York Times Magazine focuses on the move to recover money damages for the photographed subjects of child pornography. Seattle attorney Carol Hepburn, a leader in the claims against those who download and distribute child pornography, praised her client and other exploited subjects who cooperated with writer Emily Bazelon, who produced the article.
"My client lives with hurt, guilt and shame every day," said Hepburn. "The images of her childhood exploitation are still out there, floating around the Internet. I don't have the words to recognize her bravery for stepping up and telling the world her story. She lives in constant fear."
As chronicled in the article, Hepburn collaborates with New York attorney James Marsh in the effort to target those who profited from and entertained themselves with the pornographic images of child porn subjects. Hepburn and Marsh have been successful in court actions to recover restitution for children - now grown - who were abused and forced to perform sexual acts depicted in still pictures, films and videos.
The New York Times Magazine article tells the story of two young women, "Nicole" and "Amy." Nicole is Hepburn's client. From the ages of approximately 9 to 12, Nicole was raped by her father and forced to perform oral sex on him. Those episodes were photographed and have since flooded the Internet.
To date, Hepburn has used the courts to recover more than $550,000 for Nicole from men who used her image. The article looks at court actions on behalf of Nicole and others with similar claims. At present, the courts are resolving a consistent response to these claims. Defendants have argued either that restitution claims should not be honored at all or that anything over minimal amounts is disproportionate and unfair. Hepburn differs.
"When a child is raped, and the rape is photographed, uploaded, downloaded, perhaps sold and resold, and viewed by many, many others around the globe," said Hepburn, "it's as if the rape is repeated over and over. My client has lost so much. People who've been through that have every right to every dollar we can recover for them."
Hepburn, a former King County prosecutor, practices personal injury law and specializes in representing crime victims. She works from offices in Seattle and Portland.
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