CBLDF Disappointed by Guilty Plea in Handley Manga Case

According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has learned that Christopher Handley, the Iowa manga collector, has pleaded guilty “to possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material.” CBLDF had served as a special consultant to Mr. Handley's defense. The government's press release states, “Handley faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a three-year term of supervised release.” Additionally, he forfeits all property seized in his prosecution.

The CBLDF became special consultant to Mr. Handley's defense team last October. In this limited role, the Fund facilitated access to First Amendment experts; recommended expert witnesses on manga; and funded expert research pursuant to an eventual jury trial. The CBLDF spent $2,400 on that research, and had allocated up to $15,000 for expert witness expenses.

“Naturally, we are very disappointed by this result, but understand that in a criminal case, every defendant must make the decision that they believe serves their best interest," CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said. “Because the set of facts specific to this case were so unique, we hope that its importance as precedent will be minimal. However, we must also continue to be prepared for the possibility that other cases could arise in the future as a result.”

Brownstein adds, “Mr. Handley now faces the loss of his freedom and his property, all for owning a handful of comic books. It's chilling. The Fund remains unwavering in our commitment to be prepared to manage future threats of this nature wherever they arise. This is the unfortunate conclusion of Mr. Handley's case, but it is not the end of this sort of prosecution. For that reason, the Fund stands steadfast in our commitment to defending the First Amendment rights of the comics art form.”

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