LOUISA, VA (WWBT) – There was a landmark sentencing Friday and it came from a case right here in Central Virginia. Ryan Macklin was convicted on child pornography distribution charges in Louisa and under a new state law he'll have to pay restitution to his victims.
State lawmakers passed the bill in this year's session. It's actually something we've been telling you about since January as it went through the legislative process.
Now criminals, like Ryan Macklin, will literally pay for the damage they've done to their young victims.
He'll spend seven years in prison but after that, convicted child porn distributor Macklin's punishment isn't over. The Hanover man will have to pay a thousand dollars as restitution to each of his victims.
Louisa County Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Rusty McGuire helped get this bill passed earlier this year.
"We're hoping that this conviction sends a message to those that prey on children that we're coming after your liberty and we're coming after your finances," he said.
The bill requires mandatory restitution to victims of child pornography. According to McGuire, Macklin had one picture of each victim. Sources told NBC12 they're both little girls between 8 and 14 years old and the 28-year-old predator was distributing their images on a popular file sharing website.
Macklin was operating out of a hotel on Route 54 in Ashland when a Louisa detective discovered the child porn distribution. He then searched his computer and arrested him.
We've learned the images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to try and identify the victims. The restitution goes into a special fund. When authorities find out who the girls are, all the money will go to them to help them heal.
"Victims of child pornography really have a lifetime of treatment," McGuire explained. "The scars terrify them the rest of their life. They're going to need treatment throughout their life."
McGuire said it's fitting he got the first case.
"Those who possess it they create the demand, which makes the producers produce," he told us. "So the reason we pushed for this law is that those who possess are just as culpable as those who produce."
Each person caught with these images and convicted in Virginia over the years will pay restitution. Each image will be an additional thousand dollars to the victim.