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7th Circuit: Child porn victims must prove defendant shared images to receive monetary damages

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Two victims who received restitution judgments of $3.367 million and $965,827 must prove the defendant convicted of multiple federal child pornography counts uploaded images of them.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday affirmed the conviction and 30-year sentence of the defendant in U.S. v. Christopher L. Laraneta, 2:10-cr-00013-RL-PRC-1, but the court vacated the restitution order. It said the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond must first determine whether Laraneta uploaded victim images.

Victims referred to in the opinion as Amy and Vicky have received similar judgments “in literally hundreds of other criminal cases involving pornographic images,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for the unanimous panel. The order also barred Amy and Vicky from intervening at the District Court, saying that allowing it would be “a recipe for chaos.”

The victims were 8 and 10 years old when they were repeatedly raped by a relative who photographed the rapes over a two-year period, and the child porn was disseminated online.

“Images of Amy and Vicky were found on (Laraneta’s) computer, true, but he was only one of an unknown number of viewers. Although he was found guilty of distributing child pornography, there is no evidence referred to in the presentence report — and the judge made no finding — that he distributed any of the images involving Amy or Vicky,” Posner wrote.

“To summarize: The defendant’s prison sentence is affirmed. The calculation of the crime victims’ losses is affirmed too, except that the judge must determine how much to subtract from Amy’s losses to reflect payments of restitution that she has received in other cases. The order of restitution is vacated and the case remanded for a redetermination of the amount of restitution owed by the defendant; that will require, besides the subtraction we just mentioned, a determination whether the defendant uploaded any of Amy’s or Vicky’s images,” Posner wrote.

 “The defendant will not be permitted to seek contribution from other defendants convicted of crimes involving pornographic images of the two girls. And Amy and Vicky will not be permitted to intervene in the district court.”

 

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