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Grand Jury Advances 8 Felony Charges Against Former Jujutsu Kaisen Manga Translator Stefan Koza, Trial Set for June (Updated)

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Koza was arrested in December 2020, charged with 10 felony counts initially

Content Warning: The below article contains references to child pornography.

A grand jury in Fairfax County, Virginia advanced eight felony charges against former Jujutsu Kaisen manga translator Stefan Koza (34) on December 20. Each of the counts is for possession of child pornography, and each count is for a separate video.

The case first went through the Fairfax County General District Court, and then moved to the Fairfax County Circuit Court for the grand jury indictment. A Fairfax County Circuit Court representative confirmed with ANN a three-day jury trial is set to start on June 7. According to the Fairfax County General District Court, attorney Dickson Young is representing Koza. ANN reached out to Young, who declined to comment stating he does not comment on pending cases.

Details of Arrest in December 2020

Koza was arrested in December 2020 on suspicion of possession and distribution of child pornography. Virginia's Herndon Police Department made the arrest as part of a collaborative investigation with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce. He was initially charged with five felony counts of possession and five counts of distribution of child pornography.

According to a police report included in court records, police arrived at Koza's house with a warrant on December 7, 2020. Koza then reportedly dialed 911, stating someone was banging on the front door, and he was instructed to open the door for police. The report stated Koza then removed computer parts, exited through the basement of the house, and ran to the edge of a wooded lot where he threw the components. The report stated Koza then ran back toward his residence where he was arrested.

Police then reportedly asked Koza why he ran to the woods to discard property, and Koza replied that he panicked when he realized police were at his house, and he tried to discard the components to allegedly hide traces of child pornography downloads from the BitTorrent network. The report stated Koza said at the time of his arrest he was aware he was distributing and downloading child pornography files.

While Koza was originally being held without bond, he was eventually "released on recognizance" (a term meaning he was released without needing to pay bond but needed to sign a written promise to appear in court) on December 15, 2020. As part of his release, he agreed to avoid all contact with minors and agreed to not use the Internet. In January 2021 the court amended Koza's bond to allow for Koza to access Viz Media's servers and to contact two people at the company via email. Viz confirmed with ANN that it did not continue to work with Koza after his arrest.

Previous Arrest in Japan in 2014

The Sankei Shimbun reported in 2014 that Koza had been arrested on July 15 of that year in the town of Kami, Miyagi under suspicion of violating Japan's Minor Offenses Act by trespassing and secretly taking recordings in an elementary school's girls' dressing room. Koza reportedly denied the charges at the time.

The Kami school or board of education filed a criminal complaint to police in Kami on July 14, 2014. Koza reportedly stated at a staff meeting at the school that the camera was his, but he had lost it about one month prior.

Koza is a U.S. citizen who was 26 at the time of his arrest in Japan. He reportedly became an assistant language teacher (ALT) at the school in August 2009. Koza's LinkedIn profile stated he was an ALT on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program at an unspecified elementary school in Japan from August 2009 to July 2014.

The police report in the current U.S. case stated Koza told police he was arrested in Japan after allegedly hiding a GoPro camera in a changing room at an elementary school. Koza reportedly said he was given three years of probation from Japanese authorities, and was removed from Japan and ordered back to the U.S.

Past Work for Viz Media

Koza, who also went by "Steady" and "Steady Studios" in relation to his manga work, was an English-language translator for several Shonen Jump manga properties including Jujutsu Kaisen, Ghost Reaper Girl, We Never Learn, and Tokyo Shinobi Squad. Koza's LinkedIn profile stated he worked as a freelance manga translator for Viz Media since January 2018. Viz Media told ANN Koza had worked as an independent contractor for the publisher. The company noted that it has several translators who are independent contractors and provide services for a variety of titles.

Update on June 17, 2022: The Fairfax County Circuit Court has informed ANN that Koza's trial will continue on July 14.

Sources: Fairfax County Circuit Court records, Correspondence with Fairfax County Circuit Court, Fairfax County General District Court, Tysons Reporter (David Taube)

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