‘Obscene’ U.S. Manga Collector Jailed 6 Months
Slippery slope, be careful USA, you could end up down the path Australia is well and truly down.
A U.S. comic book collector is being sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to importing and possessing Japanese manga books depicting illustrations of child sex and bestiality.
Christopher Handley was sentenced in Iowa on Thursday, almost a year after pleading guilty to charges of possessing “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.”
The 40-year-old was charged under the 2003 Protect Act, which outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and which lack “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” Handley was the nation’s first to be convicted under that law for possessing cartoon art, without any evidence that he also collected or viewed genuine child pornography.
Without a plea deal with federal authorities, he faced a maximum 15-year sentence.
Comic fans were outraged, saying jailing someone over manga does not protect children from sexual abuse. “I’d say the anime community’s reaction to this, since day one, has been almost exclusively one of support for Handley and disgust with the U.S. courts and legal system,” Christopher MacDonald, editor of Anime News Network, said in an e-mail.
Congress passed the Protect Act after the Supreme Court struck down a broader law prohibiting any visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity, including computer-generated imagery and other fakes. The high court ruled that the ban was too broad, and could cover legitimate speech, including Hollywood productions.
In response, the Protect Act narrows the prohibition to cover only depictions that the defendant’s community would consider “obscene.”
The case began in 2006, when customs officials intercepted and opened a package from Japan addressed to Handley. Seven books of manga inside contained cartoon drawings of minors engaged in sexually explicit acts and bestiality.
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