Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund since 2002, has resigned from his position effective immediately. Brownstein’s resignation comes after the resurfacing of allegations of sexual assault brought against him in 2006. An account of the situation and its aftermath was reported in the Comics Journal in 2006.
The CBLDF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of comics artists, publishers, retailers and librarians. The CBLDF issued a statement after accepting Brownstein’s resignation:
“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," a statement from the CBLDF said. "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.”
Since this story was originally published the CBLDF board has updated its original response. The board acknowledged Taki Soma, the original victim from 2005, and also acknowledged new accusations leveled against Brownstein by Kris Simon. In addition, Shy Allot, who formerly worked at CBLDF in 2010, has been released from a NDA she was forced to sign when she left the organization.
In its updated response, the CBLDF board said: “The CBLDF board is undergoing a complete review of management practices and where we have fallen short. 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.”
Despite the 2005 allegations, Brownstein continued to direct CBLDF. However, in recent years, a growing number of artists have used social media to condemn his presence and his leadership at the organization. In addition, in recent weeks, a growing number of well-known comics creators have also called for his resignation, and have publicly withdrawn their support from the organization’s programs to protest his presence at the CBLDF.
Update: The CBLDF has updated its response to the allegations surrounding Brownstein and his resignation.