Section 2259 Restitution Claims and Child Pornography Possession

In 2009, a child pornography victim brought a criminal restitution claim against a defendant who possessed images of her abuse. The statutory provision authorizing restitution, 18 U.S.C. § 2259, had never before been used to bring a claim against a defendant who had only possessed, rather than produced or distributed, child pornography (“child pornography possession defendants”). The federal courts have not developed a consistent approach to resolving Section 2259 claims involving such defendants. This Note argues that two conceptions of traditional proximate cause doctrine can provide a framework for analyzing such claims. It examines Section 2259 claims using both a policy-based view of proximate causation and a view based on the relationship between the victim and the defendant. This Note concludes that, using either approach, current Section 2259 claims against child pornography possession defendants fail to prove proximate causation.