Court Orders Former Pfizer Executive to Pay $200,000 to Woman Photographed as a Child While Being Sexually Abused

egintonSenior U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton (left) has imposed an unprecedented criminal fine against from former Pfizer Vice President Alan Hesketh, 61. Hesketh previously was sentenced to 78 months for possession of roughly 2000 pictures of child pornography. He will now have to pay $200,000 to a woman who was in some of those pictures being abused, even though Hesketh did not take the picture or participate in the photographed abuse.

James Marsh, the woman’s attorney, insisted that “The victim is a victim of sexual exploitation caused by this defendant.” However, there is no evidence of any contact or solicitation by the defendant.

In handing down the fine, Eginton admitted, “We’re dealing with a frontier here.” The ruling, however, is highly questionable. First, it would likely lead to a torrent of such demands for criminal restitution — depleting such funds. Second, it stretches personal accountability to a breaking point. There is no question that people who buy or trade such child pornography are contributors or facilitators of these terrible crimes. However, the extension of the definition of victim could lead to liability without limitation. Presumably, anyone watching porn movies with an underaged character or in possession of a magazine with such a picture could be similarly faced with restitution demands. Prosecutors could threaten targets with financial ruin under such theories — forcing guilty pleas to other offenses. Restitution is generally limited to the direct victims of the defendants actions.

The concern is that there are a host of crimes that may involve the collateral crimes of others. Thus, receipt of stolen goods requires return of the property and a criminal penalty. However, a person guilty of possession is not normally required to pay restitution for a burglary if he did not play a role in the original crime. Thus, a pawn shop owner is responsible for the crime of possession of a stolen object but not restitution for the broken window or physical assault related to the break in.

Yet, courts have traditionally limited restitution to the victims of the direct crime. Those who abused this child and photographed it would fit into such a category of offenders owing restitution. Likewise, if this defendant conspired or solicited the specific abuse or photography, he would be legitimately held for restitution. This should make for a very interesting appeal.

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20 thoughts on “Court Orders Former Pfizer Executive to Pay $200,000 to Woman Photographed as a Child While Being Sexually Abused

  1. “However, the extension of the definition of victim could lead to liability without limitation.”

    “This should make for a very interesting appeal.”

    How does a judge hand down a ruling holding a defendant liable for damages to a victim when no nexus at all exists between the two?

    Granted this is a highly emotional topic, but allowing a judge to mete out punishment based not on facts but pure ipse dixit is simply insane.

  2. Using latin does not make the crime any less heinous. Until child pornographers not only forfeit freedom but all that they own, will this abomination (and those that create it) go away. Defending the rights (parentheses omitted) of these scum does nothing to further your questionable cause.

  3. RE: Possessors of child pornography

    There would not be pictures of a child being abused circulating on the web for more than 10 years, unless someone was looking at it. The viewer/possessors are pretty guilty of contributing to the abuse, basic economics: supply and demand.

  4. The instinct to couple punishment with restitution is understandable in cases like this, but one has to question the connection between the market for child porn and the event in question: did the market induce the abuse, or merely inspire the recording of it? Logically, we should reqire an affirmative answer to this question before finding the possessor of the photos even remotely liable for damages. A mandatory payment into a victim’s fund, on the other hand, requires no such nexus, and could be much more easily justified.

  5. Stop worrying about why the person with child porn has no connection and start looking at why they have child porn! There is no need for any one to process child porn so if a judge can start something good for a change let it do some good.

  6. Why wouldn’t holders of this material be responsible? If a woman has to pay millions for the possession of some music from a record label or artist why not the possessors of this type of material?

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