Ann Marie Donio (Carmen Natale)
A victim of child pornography who filed a civil suit against her perpetrator has received approval from a Camden federal judge to proceed under a pseudonym and to withhold her real name and address from the defendant.
The plaintiff must disclose her name and address but may designate that information “Attorney’s Eyes Only,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio ruled Wednesday in Doe v. Oshrin. The plaintiff’s concerns that her identity would “be spread among pedophiles and child molesters” who would “conceivably attempt to stalk or otherwise revictimize her” are sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in open judicial proceedings, Donio ruled.
The plaintiff sued Ronald Oshrin of Budd Lake, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in May 2013 on one count of producing child pornography. She seeks to recover for the “severe anxiety, mental anguish, embarrassment and stress” she suffered as a result of his actions.
Authorities said Oshrin installed hidden cameras in his home and recorded nine minor girls in various stages of undress while changing, showering and using the toilet, then circulated the images and videos to others online. The civil suit was brought under the Child Protection and Obscenity Act, 18 U.S.C. 2255, which provides that a victim of child pornography may sue responsible parties for damages.
Plaintiff counsel Alexander Linzer, of the Marsh Law Firm in New York, said on March 30 that he would not identify his client, even on a confidential basis, according to Oshrin’s lawyer, Justin Hand of Alan Zegas’ office in Chatham.
Hand protested to Donio by letter on April 1, arguing that anonymity would hamper his client’s ability to respond to discovery, since there were multiple victims of Oshrin’s acts. Hand cited Doe v. Megless, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said defendants have the right to confront their accusers, and Marcano v. Lombardi, which held that where parties are granted permission to use a pseudonym, it often comes with a requirement that the plaintiff’s real name be disclosed to the defendant and the court and thereafter kept under seal.
However, on May 21, Linzer agreed to a discovery confidentiality order calling for disclosure of the plaintiff’s name and address to Oshrin’s attorney, who is barred from sharing it with his client.
Donio said the plaintiff was entitled to proceed under a pseudonym because she established a fear of severe harm, and that the fear was reasonable. The judge then found the fear of severe harm outweighed the public’s interest in open judicial proceedings. Donio found that was the case after examining factors that included the extent to which the litigant’s identity has been kept confidential, the magnitude of public interest in maintaining confidentiality, the level of public interest in access to the litigants’ identities, and whether the litigant’s status as a public figure creates a particularly strong interest in the litigant’s identity.
Donio said the plaintiff asserted that disclosure of her identity would result in her continued embarrassment and victimization, and found that making her name public “may inhibit plaintiff’s willingness to pursue her claims.”
Oshrin produced approximately 1,022 photos depicting the genitalia of minor children from 2007 until 2012, the suit said. He was arrested in April 2012, and in December of that year he entered into a plea agreement. In February 2013, the plaintiff received a letter from the U.S. District Court Probation Office, notifying her that she was a victim of Oshrin’s offense.
The plaintiff was a friend of Oshrin’s daughter and was videotaped by hidden cameras while visiting the defendant’s home. Oshrin also installed spyware on the plaintiff’s computer, which he used to surreptitiously photograph her in private activity without her knowledge, the suit said. Oshrin then distributed images of the plaintiff to others online, her suit says. She was notified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the course of Oshrin’s criminal conviction that she was one of his victims, the suit says.
The plaintiff’s suit brings a claim under 18 U.S.C. 2255(a), which says victims of child pornography are deemed to have sustained damages of no less than $150,000; the suit also includes a claim for invasion of privacy.
Doe, whose suit was filed January 3, is the second victim of Oshrin to file a civil suit against him in a New Jersey federal court. Another suit was filed in October 2013 by Marideth Corominas, who likewise says she was filmed while using the bathroom at Oshrin’s house. Corominas did not seek to file her suit anonymously.
In the other suit, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Clark III granted the plaintiff’s motion for a writ of attachment on Oshrin’s half of his home in Budd Lake, which the plaintiff said was for sale for $499,900. But the judge denied Corominas’ motion for a writ of attachment on the half of the home owned by Oshrin’s wife.
Plaintiff counsel Linzer did not return a call. Hand and Zegas, who represent Oshrin in both cases, also did not return calls.
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