Is Chris Chan mentally ill? Sonichu creator 'legally disabled', claims lawyer after arrest

Lawyer David L Heilberg said Chris Chan's mental illness plays a role in how she presents herself online

                            Is Chris Chan mentally ill? Sonichu creator 'legally disabled', claims lawyer after arrest
Chris Chan is a popular Youtuber and creator of the viral comic Sonichu (YouTube/ CwcvilleGuardian)

Transgender comic auteur Christine Weston Chandler, popularly known as Chris Chan, who was arrested following shocking allegations of sexually assaulting her 79-year-old mother, is “legally disabled with mental health issues,” says her lawyer. 

Chan's Virginia-based lawyer David L Heilberg, told Newsweek that the Sonichu creator's mental illness plays a role in how she presents herself online. “Ms Chandler’s frequent and sometimes over-the-top presence on the internet is partly a product of mental health issues causing misguided attention-seeking and often provocative engagement with others,” Heilberg said. He also told people "not believe everything they learn on the internet" about his client and her case.


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Chris Chan and her mother, Barbara Anne Weston (YouTube/ CwcvilleGuardian)

The YouTuber was charged with one count of incest after the Green County Sheriff's Office received reports of alleged "sex crimes against a family member, who resides in the Ruckersville area." The 39-year-old was arrested days after she was heard allegedly admitting to raping her 79-year-old mother, Barbara Anne Weston, also known as Barb, who reportedly has dementia. The recording as well as text messages exchanged between Chan and an undercover agent, of the alleged admission, went viral on the internet, with Chan getting heavily slammed on social media. 

"Like almost anything on the internet, it is difficult to determine what is true. These principles hold no matter if you are a supporter, a legitimate journalist, or a trolling hater," Heilberg said. The lawyer also indicated that online trolls had contacted him trying to get information about Chandler's case. He said "legitimate inquiries from journalists, supporters, and nuisance trollers will be handled the same way."

Heilberg also criticized the lack of support for his client in light of her well-documented mental health issues. "The criminal justice system is a poor vehicle to help people with mental health issues," he told Newsweek. "There is also a critical shortage of mental health treatment facilities in Virginia. Providing somebody with the help that they need is complicated and will take time."

Is Chris Chan autistic?


Although neither Heilberg nor the police has confirmed the nature of the mental illness that Chan reportedly suffers from, Chan has claimed she has high-functioning autism. She has also reportedly stated that Asperger's syndrome should not be on the spectrum, claiming that people with Asperger's are taking the attention away from autistic people. But Chan and her takes on Autism have been criticized. On Tumblr, a user named The Nerd Next Door who blogs about “gaming, Autism Self Advocacy, my Asexuality, or what's going on in life,” said Chan gives autism a bad name. They wrote, “Chan also highlights what happens if we accept a doctrine of pity and fear like what Autism Speaks spreads.”

Heilberg added that the "volume of misinformation" found on the internet regarding her client and the case made it a "poor place to learn the truth." "There are few people with actual personal knowledge about what happened. Just because you heard or read something does not make it true," he said. Heilberg has urged anyone "with actual personal knowledge about the people involved and the facts of what happened" to contact the Greene County Sheriff's Office.

Chandler is currently being held at the Central Virginia regional jail without bond. She is due in court on September 16. The hearing will be held to determine whether she would be granted a bond. When her request to gather personal belongings was rejected earlier this month, Chan reportedly stamped her feet. If she is found guilty, she might face anywhere between one and 10 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $2,500 under Virginia state law. Chan has over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube and nearly 60,000 on Twitter.

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