Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Defendants can be civilly liable for damages to victims even after criminal restitution ordered.

            While Doe v. Hesketh, et al., No. 15-1381 (July5, 2016), is a civil matter, it could impact many who have been convicted of child sex offenses.  Defendant Mancuso pleaded guilty to a manufacturing child pornography charge.  At sentencing, the judge ordered $200,000 to be placed into a trust as restitution for the victim.  The victim later filed a civil lawsuit against Mancuso (along with other defendants who were dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction) under 18 U.S.C. § 2255 – which provides a civil cause of action for minor victims of human trafficking, sexual assault and pornography offenses.  Victims can recover personal injury damages and the cost of the suit, including attorney fees.  Statutorily, damages are automatically deemed to be no less than $150,000.

            Third Circuit found that the criminal restitution order did not bar the later filing of the civil law suit under § 2255 and that collateral estoppel did not apply so that a new damages amount, higher than the $200,000 restitution, could be determined in the civil lawsuit.  There are statutory provisions allowing for criminal restitution to be reduced by the amount of civil recovery in order to prevent double recovery.   

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