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Iowa comic book collector sentenced to six months in prison
A 40-year-old Glenwood man who pleaded guilty last year to federal child pornography charges in connection with his comic book collection has been sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation for mailing and possessing “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.”
Christopher Handley was an avid collector of manga, or graphic novels/comic books from Japan. His collection included the genres of lolicon/loli (named after the literary work “Lolita”) yaoi (male homosexual romance), and yuri (female homosexual romance).
As The Iowa Independent reported last year, Handley’s run-in with the law happened in May 2006 when he ordered seven of these graphic novels from overseas, which federal authorities intercepted and seized. When the authorities decided the materials were obscene, they then searched the private collection in his home and discovered more materials that were deemed to be obscene.
Although he originally faced five charges under the PROTECT Act of 2003, Judge James E. Gritzner ruled in July 2008 that several of the charges were “constitutionally infirm.” The PROTECT Act outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct that lack “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” Handley’s plea agreement included only two charges: One count of possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and one count of mailing obscene matter. When Handley pleaded guilty to those charges and accepted the six month plea arrangement, he faced a maximum of 15 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and six years of supervised release following any prison term.
In the terms of his sentencing, Handley forfeited all property seized in his prosecution, including his computer and the manga images deemed obscene. The order notes that Handley should be “considered for placement at a community correctional facility or if that is not available, placement at a medial security facility so that defendant’s medical needs can be adequately met.” There is no note as to what his medical needs entail. Although Handley does have to submit to DNA collection during his term of supervised release, it does not appear that he will be required to register as a sex offender.
The case drew national attention in the fall of 2008 when the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund signed on as a special consultant to the defense of Handley.