Charles Brownstein Resigns as Executive Director of CBLDF Following Sexual Assault Allegations

2 years ago 0 Comments

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) announced on June 22 that Charles Brownstein has resigned as the CBLDF's executive director, following writer and artist Taki Soma and editor Kris Simon's allegations that Brownstein sexually assaulted them. Brownstein had served as executive director since 2002.

The CBLDF made a follow-up announcement on June 25 that its board is "undergoing a complete review of management practices" and ensuring that its mission "meets modern industry needs" with input from its staff, third parties, and the comic and manga community. In addition, the staff and board will participate in mandatory training regarding "how to respond to and eliminate such behavior," referring to Brownstein's alleged sexual assault. The organization stated that it is prepared to make necessary changes to its board makeup and structure, and it is focusing on accountability and transparency. In addition to acknowledging Simon and Soma, the CBLDF is releasing Shy Allot from the non-disclosure agreement that she signed when she left the organization in 2010, so that she may also tell her story.

The CBLDF then stated on June 29 that Paul Levitz is retiring from the organization's board of directors, and Katherine Keller and Jeff Abraham have resigned from the Board.

Soma reconfirmed on Twitter on June 20 an article published in The Comics Journal in May 2006 that claimed that Brownstein sexually assaulted her in a hot tub at a hotel room party in 2005. Soma had stated in the article that Brownstein had grabbed her shoulders from behind to massage her there, slipped his hands under her shirt, felt around her back, and slipped his left hand toward her left breast. Although police filed a report, Brownstein was not prosecuted, and the case was closed.

Simon revealed her story of Brownstein's sexual misconduct against her on Twitter on June 24. After they were leaving a bar in New York, Brownstein allegedly grabbed her arm, yanked her back, and said to her "I've been wanting to do this for a long time." She stated he then grabbed her face and kissed her.

Disclosure: ANN had reached out to Brownstein at the CBLDF regarding an article on child pornography law in 2019, and the CBLDF provided a statement to help with the article.

<!–Brownstein was one of the people who had commented on the 2010 Christopher Handley case, in which an Iowa man who was on trial for possessing manga “drawings of children being sexually abused,” was sentenced to six months in prison. The CBLDF published that Brownstein had stated that “in prosecuting this case, the United States government has distorted the purpose of child pornography laws,” and that “putting Chris Handley in jail protects no one.”

Brownstein had spoken at Tokyo’s Comic Market 84 in 2013 as part of the Manga Freedom Speaking Tour about issues facing manga consumers and creators’ freedom of expression. In particular, he focused on cases of obscenity laws used to charge individuals for reading manga containing certain content, such as American citizen Ryan Matheson. Matheson was charged in 2011 with possessing and importing child pornography by Canadian Customs. According to Brownstein, Matheson was abused during his incarceration, not informed of the charges against him, denied access to legal counsel and the American embassy, not provided food or a blanket, and threatened with rape.–>

Sources: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's website (link 2, link 3) and Twitter account

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