Christopher Handley was sentenced in Iowa on Thursday, (.pdf) 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
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