Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reviewing internal practices as new misconduct allegations surface

Update: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has announced new measures taking place following further sexual and professional misconduct allegations against the recently-resigned executive director Charles Brownstein, whose departure was announced earlier this week (see below).

“CBLDF’s Board is undergoing a complete review of management practices and where we have fallen short,” read a statement from the non-profit organization’s board sent to Newsarama Thursday evening. “We are examining our mission to ensure it meets modern industry needs, and will do so with input from our full-time staff, expert third parties, and the comics and manga community.”

According to the board’s statement, both it and its staff “will participate in mandatory training to educate ourselves about how to better respond to and eliminate such behavior. We will make whatever changes are necessary, including the makeup and structure of the board itself.”

(Image credit: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)

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These changes at CBLDF stem from renewed calls for changes within the company after allegations of sexual assault by Brownstein against comics creator Taki Soma in 2005 received new attention on social media. On Monday evening, CBLDF announced that they had accepted Brownstein’s resignation.

Tuesday, comics writer/editor Kris Simon alleged that Brownstein sexually assaulted her (opens in new tab) during her time working for Shadowline, a partner studio of Image Comics.

CBLDF’s Thursday evening statement refers to Simon’s allegations, as well as Soma’s.

“First and foremost, the CBLDF is grateful that Kris Simon has come forward. We also want to recognize Taki Soma for what she endured and for bringing this to light,” the CBDF board’s Thursday statement read. “Both have our full support. We are releasing Shy Allott from the NDA she signed in 2010 when she left the organization so that her story can also be heard.”

Allott was employed by CBLDF in 2010 as its development manager/event manager. On Tuesday she publicly asked the organization, via Twitter, to release her from the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) (opens in new tab).

Original Story follows…

The board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has announced (opens in new tab) that its longtime Executive Director Charles Brownstein has resigned. No reason has publicly been given by the CBLDF about the situation, however Heat Vision reports (opens in new tab) that was due to renewed focus on a 2005 incident of alleged assault by Brownstein.

The CBLDF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon, founded to “protect the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers” according to its website (opens in new tab). The organization has argued for the protection of ‘freedom of speech’ relating to comics, including attempted censorship of comics by local, state, and federal governments.

“The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has accepted the resignation of Charles Brownstein as Executive Director, effective immediately,” reads the CBLDF statement.

“Our organization exists to serve the comics community and the First Amendment, and we can’t do that without an open and honest discourse. We believe our organization’s management and staff should be representative of and responsive to the community they serve. As we move forward, it will be with a renewed focus on accountability and transparency. And as we plan for the future with new leadership in place, we will work with our staff and human resources experts to continue developing policies that will make us a stronger organization.”

“We hear and understand the concerns of our community and recognize that this is only a first step in building greater trust and understanding regarding our mission and how it is carried out.”

Brownstein has worked as CBLDF’s executive director since March 2002. In 2006, comic artist Taki Soma alleged he assaulted her at the November 2005 Mid-Ohio Con (opens in new tab).  Brownstein denied the allegations in a 2006 statement shared with The Comics Journal.

New focus was brought to this case in the past few days following new allegations of sexual misconduct by several members of the comic book industry. Over the weekend, prominent creators including Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Miller, and James Tynion IV spoke out against Brownstein and perceived faults by the CBLDF – with Tynion encouraging a boycott of the organization until Brownstein was “removed”. 

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