Visa Sued for Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Material
As a parent, how would you feel if the payment processing company you used were associated with child pornography? If your credit card company is Visa, you may need to give it some thought. A recent lawsuit regarding distribution of child sex abuse materials names the company as a defendant along with other websites like Pornhub. If Visa is held liable, it can set a precedent for whether other financial institutions can share liability in the distribution of child pornography.
The lawsuit, brought by plaintiffs against Pornhub and other MindGeek-run websites, also names the credit card company as a defendant. Per the Washington Post, “U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote that ‘Visa lent to MindGeek a much-needed tool — its payment network — with the alleged knowledge that there was a wealth of monetized child porn on MindGeek’s websites.’”
The federal judge’s reasoning for keeping Visa as one of the defendants was its intentional decision to support a website with monetized child pornography. Visa deliberately lent its payment network to MindGeek, knowing that the website distributes child pornography. Not surprisingly, Visa opposes the decision. A spokesperson for the company states that the people who posted and distributed child pornography should be held liable instead of them. The company still plans to proceed with a motion to dismiss themselves from the lawsuit.
What is distribution of child pornography?
The United States does not take child pornography lightly. A person can be charged with child pornography when they possess even one image of a child in a sexually inappropriate position. When it comes to child pornography, you can either be convicted of either distributing it or possessing it. A person who distributes child pornography will be punished more severely than a person who possesses it.
There are many ways that child pornography can be distributed, including:
- Electronic distribution. This form of distribution happens when an offender distributes a certain image or video to millions of people. Distributing child pornography on the dark web is an example of electronic distribution.
- Sharing materials. If a person allows another person to physically copy child pornography, that is another way that it can be distributed. Another example of sharing child pornographic material is selling the material for a profit.
- Forwarding messages. If a person shares a sexually explicit message involving a minor or a sexually explicit photo of a minor in text messages, that is an example of distributing child pornography.
- Showing child pornography. In some cases, simply showing a person child pornography can lead to criminal charges. Adults who show minors any type of pornography can also be prosecuted for distributing child pornography.
Why child sexual abuse materials are dangerous and illegal
Distributing child pornography continues the sexual degradation of children. Children can be subject to molestation, sexual abuse, and human trafficking because of child pornography.
Even worse, that material can travel and get into the hands of predators who are constantly looking for new children to exploit. Knowing that this type of image is out for the world to see can cause the child to be revictimized all over again.
Can I file a civil claim if my child was sexually exploited in Los Angeles?
Yes, you can. If you suspect that someone has taken sexually explicit material of your child, you can absolutely file a lawsuit against the perpetrator. Call Taylor and Ring in Los Angeles and make an appointment for a free consultation. Bring whatever evidence and documentation you have. During this consultation, we will discuss your options for filing a civil claim against the abuser, and what you can expect.
However, before you meet with us there are somethings you can do first:
- Make an appointment for your child to speak with a licensed, experienced counselor. If the counselor believes your child has been sexually abused, they can talk to you about next steps. This may include a physical exam by your pediatrician, which can be traumatic in and of itself. You want to seek guidance from someone who can help.
- Report your suspicions to the local police. You want your fears on record, even if you think you don’t have “enough” evidence. Make a police report, and bring copies of whatever proof you do have. Know that if you do not report, the counselor will; they’re obligated to do so under California’s mandated reporter laws.
- Shut down your social media – stat. Don’t talk about your kids at all. Do not post any pictures.
We also recommend that you start a journal, of sorts, where you write down your thoughts about what is happening each day. Memories can fade over time, even when you are telling the truth. Make sure to get your initial ideas on paper, and record any details you can remember, no matter how small, about your suspicions and conversations you may have had with your children.
How long do I have to file a claim if my child was sexually exploited?
As a parent, you are your child’s biggest advocate. It is important for you to file your child pornography claim within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time period that you have to file a claim against a defendant in a personal injury case. For your child pornography claim, you have a time period of ten years to file your claim – but there are some pretty big caveats to this.
The statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases is typically tolled until their 18th birthday. This means that the clock doesn’t start running until your child reaches the age of 18. And under AB 218, “the statute of limitations for the time given to victims of childhood sexual assault [extends] from age 26 to age 40, and the period for delayed reasonable discovery from three to five years. After enactment, the measure would also allow for a window of three years for the revival of past claims that might have expired due to the statute of limitations.” We are NOT encouraging you to delay your claim; we’re simply stating that your child may still be able to seek justice even if the 10 year mark has passed.
The other caveat is this: in most cases, child pornography is shared on the internet and across state lines. That makes it a federal matter. There is no statute of limitations for these cases in federal law.
Getting help from a Los Angeles child sexual abuse lawyer
You want to make sure that whoever violated your child is prosecuted to the fullest extent. We understand. Child pornography cases are often high-profile ones involving multiple agencies (state or federal), and will be pursued in the way the government sees fit.
As a survivor of abuse or as a parent of an abused child, you can seek justice through the civil courts. If you want to take back control of your life and your narrative, Taylor & Ring is here to help.
At Taylor & Ring, our child sexual abuse lawyers want justice for your children as badly as you do. We understand how your child has been affected by the distribution of child pornography, and want to hold the parties accountable for your actions. Contact a Los Angeles lawyer at Taylor & Ring today for a free consultation by calling 310-776-6390, or completing our contact form.
John C. Taylor is one of the most accomplished and nationally recognized trial lawyers in California. The broad variety of cases he has tried during his career is matched by few attorneys, trying more than 125 cases to verdict, including: police shootings and civil rights, sexual abuse, serious personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, insurance bad faith, and employment.
Read more about John C. Taylor.