Charles Brownstein Resigns From The CBLDF After Sexual Assault Allegations Resurface
by Erik Amaya
And it only took fourteen years.
Monday night, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund issued a statement concerning allegations against its (former) executive director, Charles Brownstein, saying it has “accepted the resignation of Charles Brownstein as Executive Director, effective immediately.” Brownstein was first accused of sexually assaulting writer and artist Taki Soma fourteen years ago and as the allegation resurfaced over the years, the organization attempted to downplay Brownstein’s involvement in their operations; convincing many prominent comic book names it had reprimanded him.
But following last week’s outing of artist Cameron Stewart and writer Warren Ellis as serial groomers, Soma’s account of Brownstein’s actions resurfaced; leading many over the weekend to call on the CBLDF board to terminate Brownstein’s position. And across most of Monday, prominent names in the industry like Brian Michael Bendis clarified their relationships with the organization. Some, like Bendis, made it clear they refused to deal with the CBLDF while others declared they would no longer aid the organization until Brownstein was removed and the issues addressed. By late in the day, advisory board member Frank Miller made his standing clear:
I stand with the victims of Charles Brownstein. I’m heartbroken to hear about his actions. I will no longer be supporting CBLDF.
— Frank Miller (@FrankMillerInk) June 22, 2020
Then came Brownstein’s resignation, which critics of the CBLDF say is too convenient — it allows the organization to act as though punitive measures were applied without actually doing anything. Critics also call on the group to address the fourteen years of excuses from the time Soma first accused Brownstein to now.
In their statement, the CBLDF states they will move forward with “a renewed focus on accountability and transparency.” But many doubt transparency will be forthcoming — starting with the amount of funds given directly to Brownstein during his directorship. To say nothing of their statement’s refusal to address why he has left the organization or the nondisclosure agreements former volunteers and employees signed and still must follow.
In lieu of a comic conventions across the summer, the world of comics has become focused on rooting out some of the problem at those very same events: the sexual harassment, the drinking culture, and gray zones between professional engagements and the vacation atmosphere of the so-called BarCons. In terms of the larger systemic issues, there are few easy answers. But with comics by Ellis and Stewart cancelled and Brownstein finally removed from his leadership position, directly addressing these issues can lead to at least some short-term change. But it remains to be seen if the industry at large can commit to the follow-through.