BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – A federal judge in Connecticut has ordered a man convicted of possessing child pornography to pay about $200,000 in restitution to a woman photographed as a child while being sexually abused.
Senior U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton said his ruling Monday was the first criminal case in which someone convicted of possessing illegal images — but not creating them — is required to pay restitution.
The case involves Alan Hesketh, a British citizen who was sentenced in October to 78 months in prison for possessing and distributing nearly 2,000 photographs of child pornography. The resident of Stonington, Conn., was a vice president of New York-based Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drugmaker.
Pictures of the victim as a child being subjected to sexual abuse turned up in Hesketh's collection, according to prosecutors.
"There is a feeling of revulsion about this type of conduct," Eginton said, noting that Hesketh and his family were humiliated and his career was ruined.
Eginton added, "We're dealing with a frontier here." But he said judges have discretion with criminal restitution orders.
Hesketh's attorney, Jonathan J. Einhorn, said he would appeal the order, calling it unreasonable and predicting it would probably lead to similar claims by child pornography victims. He said his client had no contact with the woman and defendants should only pay restitution to victims whose injuries they directly caused.
Einhorn also said the woman had not proven she was one of those whose image turned up on Hesketh's computer, and those who actually participated in creating pornography in other cases were ordered to pay less restitution than his client.
But James Marsh, the woman's attorney, said there is no distinction between those who produce the pornography and what Hesketh did.
"The victim is a victim of sexual exploitation caused by this defendant," Marsh said.
Marsh said he did not believe the ruling would necessarily lead to a flood of new claims. Victims are often reluctant to come forward or do not have the ability or awareness to pursue cases, he said.
Asked how his client is doing, he said, "She has a long road ahead of her."
Einhorn said the parties were discussing a possible settlement for a lower figure to avoid an appeal.
The Justice Department in recent years has made a greater effort to identify victims whose images turn up in child pornography possession cases, Marsh said. Prosecutors said they submitted the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has a database to help authorities identify victims.
"We think this is a terrific precedent," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "The photos stay out there forever. Every time they are downloaded, every time they are distributed, the victim in that image is revictimized."
Allen said he hopes the ruling leads to more restitution orders and that they serve as deterrents to child pornography.
Prosecutors then notified the woman, now 19. The victim said she was eight or nine when she was subjected to sexual abuse by a relative for the purpose of producing child pornography that was requested by a pedophile in another state, according to court papers filed by prosecutors.
Hesketh was fired from his job in New London as Pfizer's vice president and global patent director after his arrest in March 2008. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials caught him at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
Authorities said that from June 2006 to May 2007, Hesketh used Google's now-defunct "Hello" program to exchange hundreds of images of child pornography and to engage in online "chats" about the sexual molestation of children.
Prosecutors said he posed online as a 28-year-old woman nicknamed "Suzibibaby" while trading the images, many of which included prepubescent and pubescent minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct with adults and other minors.