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Margate Man Serving Prison Sentence for Possession of Child Exploitation Images Must Also Pay Restitution to Nine Victims

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In the age of social media, almost everyone has a little fear in the back of their minds that their worst moments will circulate forever on the Internet, never to be lived down.  This fear is enough to make most of us take care to avoid making off-color comments and expletive-filled rants or wearing tasteless clothing while in the presence of recording devices (which, these days is all the time).  What if the moments you most wanted to forget were being shared and sold online for other people’s sadistic entertainment, but, if you had any say in the matter, the images would not exist at all and the events they depict would never have happened?  Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse live this nightmare every day.  Even though the victims have grown up and gotten away from their abusers, and even if the abusers are in prison for their crimes, the ordeal never ends as images of the abuse reach an ever-increasing number of people.  For this reason, several laws require people convicted of possession of images depicting the sexual abuse of children to pay restitution to the victims.  Here, our South Florida sex crimes defense lawyer explains the case of a Broward County lawyer who was convicted of possessing images of child sexual abuse, and the restitution he must pay to nine victims depicted in the images.

The Charges: Possession of More Than 1,000 Obscene Images of Child Abuse

The case that landed David Rothenberg in jail was for possession of a vast collection of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of girls in their early teens and younger.  The investigators who gathered evidence against him said that his conduct was even more disturbing than that of most cases involving possession of child exploitative material.  Whereas most defendants in these kinds of cases go to shady corners of the Internet to buy images no one would display by the light of day, Rothenberg ran afoul of an undercover police officer in a chat room where people went to solicit children being trafficked for sex.  An undercover officer pretended to be a mother offering her underage daughter to men in the chat room.  In one of their exchanges in the chat room, Rothenberg sent the officer an obscene image of child abuse.  Then law enforcement had all the evidence they needed to arrest him.

When police seized Rothenberg’s computer in 2016, they found a collection of more than 1,000 images and videos; he had been adding to the collection since 2010.  Even by the standards of investigators who regularly encounter these types of images in the course of their work, the contents of Rothenberg’s computer were unsettling.  Investigators described the material in Rothenberg’s collection as depicting the rape and torture of children, some of them apparently younger than 12.

The Sentence: 17 Years in Prison Plus Restitution

Rothenberg was practicing law in Broward County at the time of his arrest, but he was disbarred shortly thereafter.  He and his wife divorced while his case was pending, and he transferred all of his assets to her name as soon as the divorce became final.  In 2017, Rothenberg pleaded guilty to possession of sexually explicit material depicting the sexual abuse of minors.  He was sentenced to 210 months in prison.  He was also ordered to pay restitution to nine victims depicted in the images and videos found on his computer.

The Aftermath: Defendant Disputes the Amount of Restitution He Must Pay

Several laws provide for the payment of restitution by people convicted of possession of child exploitation images to the victims depicted in those images.  The most recent of those laws, known as the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act of 2018 sets guidelines for determining how much restitution should be paid.  Victims and their lawyers must submit statements detailing the losses they have suffered as a result of the abuse and attest to how the defendants’ possession or transmission of the images interferes with the victims’ health and wellbeing.  The victims estimate their past and future medical and psychological counseling bills and the income they will miss out on in their lifetime due to their mental health problems stemming from the abuse.  The court ordered Rothenberg to pay restitution to nine victims; the total amount of restitution he was required to pay was just over $142,000.  Rothenberg did not dispute his conviction or prison sentence, but he did take issue with paying restitution.  He filed an appeal regarding the restitution payments, but the appeals court upheld most of it.

Contact Us Today for Help

Laws like the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act aim to protect victims from insurmountable financial obstacles resulting from their abuse but also protect defendants from having an unfair financial burden imposed on them in the form of excessive restitutions.  Every case is unique, and a Miami child pornography lawyer will help ensure a fair outcome for your case  Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo for help with your case.

Resources:

casetext.com/case/united-states-v-rothenberg-4

sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-reg-child-porn-victims-restitution-20170525-story.html

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