- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A mother doesn’t deserve restitution from a man convicted of viewing pornographic photos of her young daughter because she didn’t lose income as a result of his actions, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

David Tarlo pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography in Walworth County in 2013. He got a five-year prison sentence that was stayed in lieu of probation.

The mother of a girl in the images sought $60,000 in restitution from Tarlo for lost income. She claimed during a court hearing that she was deprived of that much income support because her husband had been arrested and incarcerated for producing child pornography, including the images of their daughter found on Tarlo’s computer. State attorneys argued that Tarlo owed the mother restitution because he had viewed and possessed the image.

A court commissioner recommended that Tarlo pay restitution of $10,000. The commissioner determined that amount by dividing the $60,000 the woman wanted by the six people that the mother testified had been caught with a photo of her daughter. A Walworth County judge ordered the payment.

Tarlo appealed, arguing the mother’s lost income had nothing to do with him viewing and possessing the girl’s image.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals agreed. The court ruled that courts must construe restitution statutes broadly in order to help victims recover their losses and federal case law supports the idea of holding child pornography consumers liable for victim restitution.

But the victim’s losses must have resulted from a defendant’s criminal conduct, the court said. The evidence here showed the mother’s losses stemmed from her husband’s conduct rather than from Tarlo’s conduct or from general trafficking of the girl’s photo online.

“It cannot be said … that Tarlo’s actions, which occurred after the husband produced the pornography, caused the husband to produce it,” the court’s ruling said.

A spokesman for the state Justice Department, which defended the restitution order, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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This story has been corrected to show the decision came on Wednesday, not Thursday.

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