“It’s hard to describe what it feels like to know that at any moment, anywhere, someone is looking at pictures of me as a little girl being abused by my abuser, and is getting some kind of sick enjoyment for it.”
The woman who as a child was depicted in the Vicky series did not know until years after the attacks stopped that her father uploaded and distributed proof of his crimes.
After reporting him to police in 2005, he fled the country. She made an appearance on the syndicated television program “America’s Most Wanted” — revealing her identity — in hopes of generating leads for a worldwide manhunt.
A Toronto police detective saw the show and recognized the teen as the unidentified victim in the Vicky series.
The Globe does not name victims of sexual abuse.
“My world came crashing down the day I learned that pictures of me being sexually abused had been circulated on the Internet,’’ she said in court documents.
“Since then, little has changed except my understanding that the distribution of these pictures grows bigger and bigger by the day and there is nothing I can do about it.”
Each time her images are found in a pornography collection or are introduced as part of a court proceeding, she is notified through the FBI’s Child Pornography Victim Assistance Program, launched in 2006.
Victims can opt to have notices sent to them, although the agency warns they “may start to receive a large number of notifications.”
Vicky’s family, overwhelmed by the volume of reports, eventually decided to stop getting notifications.
“The pain and gut-wrenching reminder of receiving enough notices to overflow a 55-gallon drum is more than my family can take,’’ her stepfather said, according to court records.
T. Patrick Kearney, one of the many men who possessed and distributed Vicky images, in 2010 pleaded guilty in US District Court in Worcester to child pornography-related charges.
Kearney, a North Grafton resident, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3,800 in damages for possessing and distributing Vicky videos.
Kearney appealed the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, arguing Vicky was not his victim — he hadn’t physically abused her himself.
Even if she were, he contended, his contribution to her suffering was inconsequential because so many others viewed and traded the same images.
The appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision, and two month ago Kearney requested a review from the US Supreme Court, which has not said whether it will hear the case.
Hepburn said she expects the Supreme Court to address the issue soon. She wants the top court to rule that victims be fully recompensed for their losses.
She’s also eager to have more public understanding about the effects of child pornography on victims.
“I can’t tell you how many times we have to educate people, to say, ‘Hey these are real kids. They have real damages,’’ she said.
“My client’s images are a viral thing online. She can never put that back in the box.”