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Criminal charges dropped in Canada Customs manga case

After two years and $75,000 in legal fees, charges have been dropped against Ryan Matheson, a U.S. citizen accused of bringing child pornography into Canada after border officials discovered manga art on his computer.

According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, in exchange for pleading guilty to a non-criminal code regulatory offence under the Customs Act of Canada, Matheson, who faced up to a year in prison and the addition of his name to Canada’s sex offender registry, will not stand trial.

Last summer, the CBLDF formed a coalition to financially and legally assist Matheson, raising $20,000 toward his expenses. The arrest also inspired the resurrection of the Canadian Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund which collected $11,000. The two organizations will continue their campaign to raise the remaining $45,000 in outstanding legal fees.

For the first time, Matheson has made a personal statement, recounting the impact the arrest has had on his personal and professional life. His lawyer, Michael Edelson, has also posted a legal advisory about bringing comics into Canada.

Last May, Q&Q reported on a Canada Customs seizure of comics heading to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. On May 6, TCAF participants Tom Neely and Dylan Williams were stopped at the Buffalo, N.Y., border, where copies of Blaise Larmee’s graphic novel Young Lions and black-humour anthology BLACK EYE 1: Graphic Transmissions to Cause Ocular Hypertension were confiscated by customs officers.