Home News Legal Matters Gordon Lee case delayed until November

Gordon Lee case delayed until November


While we can all agree that the Gordon Lee case should never have happened — surely the trauma of seeing a small drawing of a normal penis is less upsetting to the two young boys involved than being coached as part of a witch hunt — there is something very strange going on.

First the case had to be delayed because it turned out the prosecutors had the wrong victim: charges were refiled and went from a felony to a misdemeanor. As the CBLDF timeline puts it:

Lead counsel Alan Begner said, “I have never — as a criminal trial lawyer for thirty years — seen a complete changing of the facts like this. Throughout the year and a half before that trial date, through written statements, the investigation, and the presentation of evidence before the grand jury, as well as the written accusation and indictment, the State had steadfastly asserted that the comic book had been handed to the nine-year-old. The dismissal of the charges today reflects the prosecution’s admission that everything that was presented as evidence before was untrue, and that they had stuck to the false facts through procedure after procedure in the case. How did a year and a half of statements based on one set of facts get changed at the last minute to another set of facts?”

After this bamboozling, the trial was set to get underway this week. But first the start was delayed due to a broken air conditioner. In a sweltering court room, this was a matter of some urgency.

After every comics website has trumpeted the headline “GORDON LEE TRIAL TO BEGIN TODAY” yesterday, it turned out we were to be denied again — the judge in the case came down sick. Perhaps gthe filter in the Ac needed to be changed, and the judge had come down with the ague.

And now, because of the way the Rome, GA court docket works, the trial has been delayed until NOVEMBER:

“Everyone gets sick, and Judge Salmon would surely excuse either our team or the prosecution from trial if any of our key players were too ill to appear,” Brownstein said. “This isn’t like the prosecutors calling off the case in April of 2006 because they had their facts wrong; this is a normal, unavoidable human reality.”

To us, one thing is clear, and we hope the good people of Rome, GA get the message loud and clear:


In His infinite wisdom and mercy, He is sending us signs. It is up to us to listen.

  1. Speaking as a Georgian with deep roots on both sides of my family here……trust me….the people of Rome, GA most likely DO in fact want him to go on trial. I would hope they’re more enlightened, but when there’s not much to do but drink at Applebee’s and wait for your turn on the town bicycle, they want him to do hard time.

    That’s my guess, anyhow. The whole thing is sad, and I’m 100% not surprised by any of it.

  2. It really seems like somebody is trying to drain Lee’s resources for defense.

    The whole “Let’s start all over again because we’ve got the wrong victims” thing is pretty annoying too.

  3. It was a FLOPPY Spanish penis – in France, no less. This whole case stinks from the ground up. It seems pretty obvious that the court is grasping at straws to delay this case. If this case goes the way it should, Lee will be acquitted in five minutes and the prosecutor will be disbarred. And hopefully Lee will get some restitution.

    Sadly, the “justice” system is rarely impartial, and it all depends on whether or not the people of Rome are afraid of a tiny penis. Or Picasso.

  4. Have YOU seen it?
    Most of us have certainly seen excerpts.
    And while there is “more to it” in terms of language (the F word and mention of masturbation) it’s still far from any reasonable definition of “pornography.”
    And even if it WERE, he’s on trial for DELIBERATELY distributing it to a minor. Something no one would knowingly do.
    He’s obviously not guilty.
    The D.A. & prosecutors KNOW they are doing wrong here.
    They know.

    It will be a real miscarriage of justice if Lee is convicted.

    I predict the case will be quietly dropped between now and November.

  5. Malus, yes I’ve seen it. I have the comic. It’s not pornography, but its also not similar to what you would see in the Sistine Chapel or read in the Bible. Nobody has said that it was pornography.

    Lee is charged with two counts of Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material. Looking at what actually in the comic, I can see why a parent wouldn’t want their 6-year old and 9-year old kid reading it.

  6. Bentcorner, I wouldn’t want my 8 year-old and 10 year-old reading it either, but that doesn’t make the comic “harmful.” It makes it “age-inappropriate.”

    I wasn’t too pleased that the kids saw a cartoon willy in The Simpsons Movie the other night, either, but I’m not trying to file suit and send Matt Groening to jail.

  7. Grant, if you don’t think adult material is harmful to young children, why not just let them be exposed to it? I’ve always thought the reason parents don’t want their children exposed to adult material was because they believed that it would be harmful to their development.

    The book doesn’t just contain nudity. I cannot count how many times I’ve read that the book showed a penis and that’s why Lee is being charged. It has a lot more then that. It has both male and female nudity along with language of a sexual nature. It’s not what I would call smut, but it’s also not the type of thing you would see at the Sistine Chapel or read in the Bible either – things Lee said about the book when this first happened.

    The Simpsons movie was rated PG-13, right? I think that means that the rating board said kids younger then 13 should not watch it. I think.

  8. Because parenting, in my experience, involves understanding that life doesn’t break down into “black” and “white” on every topic. I don’t think the content of the book will HARM them. That’s the keyword the court is using, the ineference being that all stimuli break down into two fields: that which harms children and that which does not. It is not hypocritical to suggest that something can sit in the “doesn’t really harm children” bucket and still not be acceptable for your household.

    I’d rather Janet Jackson’s boob not shown up on television three years ago, but I don’t think anybody was HARMED by it. If the court would like to offer expert testimony that young individuals who read Alternative Comics # 2 will suffer emotional scarring, and developmental disorders, as a result of the experience, I should like to hear it.

    I agree that it is not age-appropriate, but that does not mean it will harm children. Complex economic debate about Wal-Mart’s impact on communities is similarly age-inappropriate for younguns. So is most of the language uttered on the ice at a hockey game, or most of the content of BLACK EYE, RED EYE, or the hatemongering of a Jack Chick comic, or DEATH NOTE, or BUDDY DOES SEATTLE. Not many miles from Floyd County, in Gwinnett, a parent has been on a crusade to ban Harry Potter from public schools because she considers them age-inappropriate. But these parenting concerns do not mean that young eyes are genuinely harmed by them.

    As for the MPAA, I think their PG-13 rating was actually issuing me a “strong caution,” in their terms. I considered their caution, I got two seconds of cartoon nudity, two kids laughing their butts off and me wincing. I don’t think anybody was harmed, though I might have blushed a little.

  9. Bentcorner, the POINT is that Gordon Lee is charged with intentionally distributing the book in question to minors. Why would he place his business in jeapordy and risk his freedom? It’s an empty, baseless, INSANE charge. , and its cost the CBLDF (and all us who support it) over 80 thousand f****ng dollars. All that money GONE because of an ax-grinding hillbilly D.A. in a town and state that is supposed to be far more progressive than this.
    I used to drive an hour and a half twice a month to go to to Lee’s shop, long before he owned it. My area (North Alabama)had no comics shops to speak of, and Legends was a real oasis.
    I’ll be attending Lee’s trial when it finally starts if I possibly can, hopefully to see justice done.
    The parents of this “injured kids” are idiotic pawnsin this persecution. The idea that they’re pursuing some noble cause in bringing about Lee’s PERSECUTION is B.S. I have two children the same ages as these twits, and while I’d be upset, I’d certainly accept the man’s goddamn apology.

  10. Malus, I think its fair to ask retailers to know what they are actually giving to very young children. Especially considering Lee’s history. He already has a prior conviction for “distributing obscene materials”. Not for comics like The Salon, but for selling porn comics, Final Tabu and Debbie Does Dallas.

    I don’t really know how you know that the kid’s parents are idiots. I don’t think I’ve read even who they are, let alone an interview with them. I do know a lot of nasty things have been said about them, seemingly by people that no nothing about them.

    Did Gorden Lee ever actually apologize? I know that he issued a statement saying that he was “willing” to apologize, but he then went on comparing the the book to the Sistine Chapel and the Bible. If that was his apology, it didn’t sound very contrite.

    If this law is wrong, how do you stop adults from distributing material to young children showing nudity and phrases such as “drink penis”?

  11. I was a retailer for SIX YEARS and checking everything thoroughly is no easy task. Like to see you or anyone else read every word of 50-80 comics a week. And yet many retailers TRY. Making the task more difficult is many publishers’ failure to place any labeling whatsoever on the covers of questionable works.
    From everything I’ve heard Gordon say, yes, he pays very close attention to the multitude of titles he receives every week. But again, this is beside the point.
    Alternative Comics #2 was NOT sold to a minor. It was A LEFTOVER FREEBIE FROM MONTHS EARLIER and was inadvertantly caught up in the mix of stuff to fill trick-or-treat bags with.
    It was CLEARLY unintentional, thus he is INNOCENT of the ridiculous charges. Period.

    Yes, Lee apologized to the idiot/collaborator parents. TWICE.
    My guess is the Floyd County D.A. encouraged the parents not to accept Lee’s apology.

    WHAT prior conviction? My understanding was he beat those trumped up charges, making the D.A.’s motivation behind this case seriously suspect.
    If he was ever convicted, please site your source.

    This case is persecution, as black and white as it comes.

    The LAW is not wrong, it’s the improper application of the law.
    Gordon did NOT willfully distribute the book to the minors.

    Jesus, the prosecutors couldn’t even get it straight who received them and are putting him through a totally re-charged case because of their incompetence.


  12. Malus, I think its fair to ask retailers to know what they are actually giving to very young children. Especially considering Lee’s history. He already has a prior conviction for “distributing obscene materials”. Not for comics like The Salon, but for selling porn comics, Final Tabu and Debbie Does Dallas.

    Question: Was this “selling porn to minors” or “selling porn?” Because honestly, if he was convicted (and it seems from Malus’ follow-up that even that wasn’t true) of selling materials that some considered obscene to consenting adults, well, that’s kind of stupid in and of itself.

    And goes to show once more that it’s the community standards, not Gordon Lee, that should probably be under the microscope here.

    Did Gorden Lee ever actually apologize? I know that he issued a statement saying that he was “willing” to apologize, but he then went on comparing the the book to the Sistine Chapel and the Bible. If that was his apology, it didn’t sound very contrite.

    So it’s only OK if he apologizes and says that the book was filth? Even if he, like most, believe that the nudity had artistic value and wasn’t really offensive, and the apology is coming not for the material but for accidentally letting the material get into the child’s hands? That seems kind of silly. Why not apologize for what is actually offending these people? The charges aren’t “Gordon Lee made and produced this comic book that we think is dirty,” so why should the apology have anything to do with bad-mouthing the content?

    If this law is wrong, how do you stop adults from distributing material to young children showing nudity and phrases such as “drink penis”?

    This might be crazy sounding, but parents out there might consider going *with* their young impressionable children to the comic shop and making sure what they’re buying is appropriate. Rather than having a retailer check every book on the shelf and then do their own math about what every single parent is going to find appropriate, maybe each parent should bring their own appropriateness standards and look through the two or three books their own child is buying.

    I guarantee you, if the parents had been there with the kids when they were buying the book and had seen the book, and had they taken it to Gordon Lee that minute and said “This was in my child’s bag!” they probably would have gotten a very sincere apology for the mix-up and a different, more age appropriate free comic as well. The notion that there are retailers out there trying to corrupt children by sneaking penis pictures into their bags is ludicrous.

  13. Well put, Randy Lander.

    I’m not against laws that protect my children from materials they shouldn’t be privvy to. I’m all for them, in fact. But this case does not fit that description. No one in their right mind would purposefully do what Lee is accused of.
    I’ve come close to slugging other adults (especially parents) who use foul language in the presence of my kids. Cretins like that deserve this kind of trouble, not Gordon Lee. What was his crime? A needle-in-a-haystack accident (not even an oversight) while trying to provide the kids in his community with free age-appropriate reading material. Wooo, what a dangerous guy. Yeah, right up there with pedophiles.
    $80,000 of CBLDF money is now gone thanks to these idiots in Rome.

    In his blog, Bentcorner laments that Lee cannot accept a plea bargain as condition for the CBLDF taking his case. Well THANK GOD FOR THAT!
    These witch hunting hillbillies need to be beaten down; not caved in to and placated, which will just embolden them to persecute others.
    And by the way, when Gordon accepted the CBLDF’s conditions, he was charged with MULTIPLE FELONIES! Jesus, who wouldn’t have agreed to the terms?
    Let’s get it straight who the bad guys are here.
    Hint: It ain’t Gordon Lee.

    Why aren’t people in North Georgia picketing Rome City Hall over this daily? The public officials there are abusing their offices and persecuting citizens. This is America, people of Rome. Get out there and make your outrage known. Embarrass these self-rightous prigs like they never imagined possible.

    All this.
    Over a freakin’ accident.

    It’s shameful.

  14. Malus, even if Lee didn’t know that the book in question contained nudity and graphic language, he should have known that it wasn’t the type of book that should be placed in a young child’s Halloween basket. I mean come on. Take the nudity and graphic language out of the book and you still are left with something of absolutely no interest to a 6-year old or a 9-year old. He evidently thought a book like this would make good Halloween bag fodder for young children yet you are calling the parents “idiots”?

    If you want to believe that Lee was not a convicted of distributing pornography, there is nothing I can do to change your opinion. In 1993, Lee was convicted for selling two porn comics, “Final Tabu” and “Debbie Does Dallas”. Believe it or don’t believe it.

  15. Randy, I’m not saying that Lee should apologize by denouncing the book as filth. He should though in my opinion admit that giving a book to a young child where a woman is told to go “drink penis” was a mistake. Instead he says that the book is on par with the Sistine Chapel and the Bible. That strikes me as wrong. Also, the children did not buy the book. It was placed in their Halloween bags by an employee working at Lee’s store. The children did not choose this book. The book was chosen for them.

  16. Bentcorner, as I understand it, the book was never “picked” at all. Its inclusion was an absolute accident. Kinda like the “Midnight Sons: Son of Satan” comic I discovered in a commercially sold Easter basket back at Wal-Mart back in 1998.
    As for the supposed conviction, I’ll ASK HIM MYSELF.
    From reports I have read, he beat that charge and this case is suspected payback on the D.A.’s part. But that may have been another case; I can’t testify to that.

    Of course that has not a damn thing to do with this case, even if it is true.

    Apparently you feel Lee is being FAIRLY persecuted. You have a right to that opinion; I just hope there aren’t many like you on the jury.

    But your insistance that Lee CHOSE the comic FOR these kids doesn’t make a lick of sense, just like the rest of this case.

  17. What do you know. You’re right about the conviction, Bentcorner.
    Apparently the conviction’s overturning is misinformation:

    Of course this was a case of selling said materials to ADULTS.
    And the book in question in the current case is hardly “Debbie Does Dallas.”

    The fact remains that Lee is being persecuted for an honest mistake.
    I can only hope that his prior conviction will have little or no bearing on the trial’s outcome.

    And unless a jury can be convinced that Lee gave the book out deliberately, then he should be exonerated.

  18. Malus, by all means ask him if he was in fact convicted of selling pornography. You also might want to turn to the Rome News-Tribune.


    “This is not Lee’s first go-round in these type proceedings.

    In 1994 he was found guilty of distributing obscene material by a Floyd County jury.

    In that case, the son of Sandra Allen of Rome received two comics from Lee’s store described as pornographic by Floyd County Judge Larry Salmon. The two adult books were entitled Debbie Does Dallas and Final Taboo.

    After being convicted Lee took his case to the Georgia Court of Appeals, but the conviction was unanimously affirmed. The Georgia Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. ”

    You really don’t think that his prior conviction for distributing obscene material has not a damn thing to do with this case? I think they are directly related.

    I don’t know for certain what type of people will be sitting on the jury. I wouldn’t be surprised though if members of the jury have a hard time believing that a comic containing nudity and language such as a male character telling a female character to “drink penis” isn’t too much for a 6-year old. They might have a hard time believing that it has anything in common with their Bible as Lee has claimed.

    It’s not my insistence that Lee chose the book, but it’s what I’ve read. Lee was the one that decided which books to give to Halloween trick-r-treaters.

  19. If accurate, I find Lee’s mention of the Sistine Chapel, etc, to be in poor judgment and unfortunate for the case.
    And understand, I do not know Lee personally. Apparently he has the prior conviction, but that doesn’t reflect poorly on him in my opinion – provided the purchasers of the books were adults. (Though it may have again been poor judgment on his part, if he knew full well he was violating local obscenity laws.)
    All I’m saying is that unless Lee personally and deliberately chose that book, KNOWING of its contents, and gave it directly to waiting children….then this is all simply a very unfortunate mistake, and never should have come to all this.

    If his original, personal apology to the parents included comparisons to the Sistine Chapel, then I think he was asking for this case. If however he was sincere in his two (2) apologies, and the Sistine Chapel remarks came later, after his being charged, I don’t have as big a problem with it.
    Again, these are details I’d like to be clear about.
    Like many others, I was under the wrong impression regarding the 1993 conviction. I have no problem admitting that. But again, I’m not sure it should have anything to do with this case, as the circumstances are completely different.
    Did he stop selling real adult comics after the ’93 case? Because most of us agree that the Salon piece is hardly pornographic; certainly no more so than many Vertigo books.
    Because if the guy has tried to comply with the law ever since ’93, but at the same time made available a lot of the often mature-themed-but-excellent comics works like Blankets and Fun Home…well that makes a big difference to me, too.
    These kids did not receive an all-out porno comic; they received an artsy graphic novel excerpt that had language and nudity. We all know there’s a huge difference between that and Anton Drek. I would imagine the latter (if it’s still carried there) was nowhere near the freebie stuff that was brought out for Halloween.

    Bottom line: If this WAS an accident (and all indications are it WAS) then Lee is not guilty.
    Personally, I think there’s a lot of local personal stuff, personalities and past history, that went into the making of this case. Hopefully this will not obfuscate the real question at hand as the trial plays out or unfairly influence what is likely to be a fairly Bible-belt jury to make wrong decisions.

    One thing’s for certain: It’s made me re-think returning to comics retailing in the state of Alabama.
    A guilty verdict in the Lee case will (and should) send a chill through the entire community of comics retailers.

  20. Days late, and many dollars short, Bent, you say you’ve read the comic, and I haven’t. But part of the reaction is to the trial is the seemingly disproportionate response. You can clarify for me, having seen it, but isn’t it just the normal spanish penis from above in the excerpt in Alternative Comics #2? I feel like I would’ve heard about there being more objectionable to parents…Gordon Lee didn’t hand over “The Salon”, which may indeed have much more a parent can choose to restrict from their children, he gave away a comic with some pages of it. There seems to be some confusion over that, from reading the comments.

  21. Malus — I live in Rome, Ga. I do know the….. person…. in question.

    The Comic Store owner from the Simpsons is an angel next to this guy. At least you can see that the cartoon character is a scuz.

    It would take several long page to detail the whys, but suffice it to say that I think he deserves to be in jail.

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