The parents of one of the victims of a Howard County substitute teacher serving a 16-year sentence for possession of child pornography is seeking statutory damages in federal court.
The victim, identified as Jane Doe, was one of Jeremy Sykes’ students at Folly Quarter Middle School where he was a substitute teacher. Sykes digitally altered pornographic images of both adults and children so they showed the faces of his stepdaughter and students at the school.
“It’s sensitive, of course, but at the same time there’s a desire to seek redress,” said Michael D. Herman, who represents the victim and her parents.
Herman represented one of Sykes’ victims in a lawsuit filed in Howard County Circuit Court, which settled last year. When another victim came forward, Herman said the decision was made to file the case in U.S. District Court; federal law allows victims of child pornography to recover damages of at least $150,000 if they have been personally injured.
Doe suffered and continues to suffer injury as a result of Sykes’ actions, the complaint alleges, and is entitled to compensatory and punitive damages.
“I think the main thing here is that the federal [statute] provides for minimum damages for an aggrieved individual and such is not the requirement under state law,” said Herman, of Michael D. Herman & Associates PC in Riverdale Park.
Sykes was convicted in Howard County Circuit Court of violations of Maryland law, but the substance of the state statute tracks with that of the federal statute, according to the complaint filed, filed last week. Herman said a conviction under the federal child pornography statute is not a requirement to file suit under the damages provision.
The case is Jane Doe et al. v. Jeremy Sykes, 1:17cv00017.