In the Shadows - Features - Atlanta Magazine

In the Shadows

One spectacle you won’t see this Labor Day weekend is DragonCon’s cofounder, who for the past twelve years has managed to elude facing trial on child molestation charges. But has time finally run out for Ed Kramer?

Illustration by Jeffrey Smith
Even without Kramer at the helm, DragonCon continued to thrive, last year celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. Its annual costume parade along Peachtree Street, begun in the post-Kramer era, has been embraced by Atlanta as one of the city’s premier people- and creature-watching events.

Still, for many, Kramer casts an ominous shadow over the event—one that current DragonCon leaders have tried to remove. Within a few years of Kramer’s arrest, DragonCon began severing visible ties to its main founder by all but purging his name from the website and forbidding on-site collections for his legal fund. In 2009 Kramer filed the first of two lawsuits against Henry and DragonCon/ACE Inc. In the complaints, now both filed in Fulton County Superior Court, Kramer essentially accuses his former partner of looting the company by spending con funds on junkets to Las Vegas, giving himself a healthy (but unspecified) salary as CEO, and putting his wife and daughters on the payroll.

As soon as Kramer stepped down from the DragonCon board in August 2000 “to attend to a personal legal matter,” Henry deliberately underreported attendance figures, the complaint says, in an apparent effort to hide the company’s value and shortchange Kramer on annual dividends.

According to court documents, between 2004 and 2006, Henry tried to buy Kramer out—eventually offering as much as $500,000—but Kramer refused to sell without seeing a balance sheet. So Henry simply withheld Kramer’s dividend until he threatened legal action.

“It’s a classic squeeze-out,” says attorney McNeill Stokes, who represents Kramer against DragonCon. Stokes says his client eventually received dividends for 2009 and 2010—although he won’t say how much Kramer received for those or previous years—but was forced to file the second suit last year in an effort to collect his 2011 dividend of $154,000.

Henry hung up the phone when contacted for comment, and he did not return subsequent messages. But his postings on the DragonCon website place its 2011 attendance at more than 46,000—far less than the 125,000 visitors who went to Comic-Con last year, but sizable enough to rate among Atlanta’s largest conventions.

DragonCon, however, has never released revenue figures, even under Kramer’s watch. This Labor Day weekend, attendees will pay $120 in advance for admission for all four days, or between $30 and $50 for one-day passes. By all accounts, the event has always had a small payroll, instead relying on up to 2,000 volunteers, with first-timers paying $20 a head for the privilege.

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
Comment Like
  • 43
  1. Richard Dinsmore posted on 08/30/2012 10:41 PM
    Excellent article, Mr. Henry. Thank you.
    1. Rob posted on 09/05/2012 07:07 PM
      @Richard Dinsmore If this is the real Dinsmore,

      Your the example being made in this article. The example of nothing happening to you. Why would you continue to participate in this if YOU are not a victim? Matter of fact as the article clearly states.. there are no acknowledged victims. Just lots and lots of gossip and throwing a guy who went out of his way to be nice to you under a bus. Weird then maybe? Vicious and cruel as hell now.. absolutely.
    2. JasonH_8847 posted on 09/12/2012 02:43 AM
      @Richard Dinsmore @Rob Nice is the snake that turns on you. People get away with murder through being initially nice. My heart goes out to Dinsmore, it would be terrifying to look back on one's memory and realize they were in dangerous company. Yes, Ed Kramer's done a lot to further the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. That doesn't give him an insider's pass to do whatever he wants to fans. The biggest crime here is the willful manipulation of people's trust, and he has drug everyone involved down with him. It's not cruel to look back and realize you narrowly dodged serious trauma. Ed Kramer has a host of problems, so it seems, they are all serious, and the pack of enablers around him keep him from dealing with it. I understand why so many would come to aid one of their own, but there not being acknowledged victims is untrue. Their names are protected to ensure their privacy. I understand how this can feel like a blow to people who lead similar lives involved in fandom, and it seems that society is trying to push the entire lot back to outsider status, but this isn't something like the West Memphis 3, this is a master manipulator pulling tons and tons of strings. He went so far to push the race card. He's been warned to stay away from minors, yet time and time again he has failed to do so. That is an enormous red flag. He is innocent until proven guilty, but so was Michael Jackson, and he quickly became tabloid fodder, and the laughing stock of the free world. Would you let your child sleep in the same bed as Ed Kramer?
  2. traci posted on 08/30/2012 11:06 PM
    Thanks for this. It's time for SF fandom to stop enabling criminal behavior, closing ranks every time someone in fandom gets nailed for a crime. Sandusky and Paterno have nothing on this crowd.
  3. Tess Fowler posted on 08/31/2012 12:39 AM
    I had NO idea. Been trying to work this convention for awhile now, and heard random snarky comments about "perverts". Then this article hit my newsfeed over on FB. I just...I had no clue. Thank you for posting such a detailed article.
    1. Rob posted on 09/05/2012 06:58 PM
      @Tess Fowler Tess, let me assure you that the perverts at D.C. are the boobmatized barbarians who assume that a revealing costume is an invite to fondle you or take a rather obviously tilted picture. Most of the volunteers are of decent moral fiber. They see very little of the show during there weekend and are doing it for you and the other guests. There not the adults in the werewolf circles "loosing track" of there beer but watching to see who picks it up for followup. Or the guys asleep under game tables who after you catch them looking up your skirt or kilt claim to have been there the whole time. Those are the customers who have turned the place into a "hookup festival" all with the open support of the "for profit" admininstration.
  4. Nancy A. Collins posted on 08/31/2012 02:28 PM
    I'm glad the truth about Kramer's continued financial involvement with Dragoncon is finally getting out there.

    While Dragoncon has been quick to assure the professional writers, artists & talent who participates at the convention that Kramer no longer has anything 'to do' with the convention (i.e. running it), they routinely fail to mention his ownership and profit sharing dividends. Then again, most professionals attending the convention are unaware that it isn't a Non-Profit Organization in the first place.

    Those in charge of running the convention nowadays have had over a decade to figure out how to get rid of Kramer, and yet, here we are, 12 years later, and he's still attached like a tick. Or a tumor. Good, smart lawyers aren't *that* hard to find in Atlanta. And Dragoncon can certainly afford one , or even two, at this point. At the very least, they should pick up the phone and Call Saul.
    1. Rachel posted on 01/29/2013 09:36 PM
      @Nancy A. Collins Why would anyone ever assume that dragoncon is non-profit?
  5. paul posted on 09/05/2012 12:57 AM
    I walked away from this show in 2001 when I realized the Ed Kraamer was still running the show. I started dealing with Pat Henry after it was said Ed was out, knowing what Ed was accused of doing. I heard the sycophants profess his innocence, and observed the atmosphere promoted by this show. Pat had concerns with what I was asking for in regards to the show, and wouldn't you know it I got a call from Ed Kramer himself to fix the problem that he said "Pat wasn't allowed to answer". Make no mistake, every dollar Dragon Con makes went to keep this man free, and free to what he does. I believe he has done bad things and is still getting money from this show and still (until he was caught) doing bad things to young boys. Send in Sherman and burn it to the ground and rebuild it if the fans are still there, but this is a the show that Ed Kramer built, the money you spend here keeps Ed Kramer free and the credibility they have helps them make more money for Ed Kramer. Shame on you Dragon Con, Shame on you Atlanta and SHAME ON YOU ED KRAMER YOU SICKO.
  6. Rob posted on 09/05/2012 06:50 PM
    So, what exactly happens to the credibility of "professionals" like Nancy A Collins who suddenly find themselves facing the fact.. that "none of the kids" other than Dinsmore have ever made a statement of any quality? And Dinsmore himself in the early days of this denied it over and over and over. That has late as 2 years ago.. the Dragon Con admin team was still culling out the "pro Kramer" forces from the D.C. volunteer list. Some of them around for as long as 18 and 20 years on that staff doing excellent customer service and building that show. All of them being victimized over something as simple as "not ready to buy the story yet." Kramer deserves his day in court which ever way it comes out for him. But to simply say "it looks creepy" or "i still feel wierd" is not only irrelevant it is irresponsible.
    1. Nancy A. Collins posted on 09/05/2012 10:03 PM
      @Rob When you refer to "none of the kids" not making a statement of any quality, I take you're not referring to the 4 young men (then young boys) who reported acts of aggravated child molestation to the GA police (one in 1996, two in 2000, and one in 2003), all 4 of whom were members of Kramer's underage boy entourage.

      As for why Dragoncon chose to purge the pro-Kramer forces from the existing concom, that is something you should ask on the convention's Facebook/LiveJournal page.

      I would love to see Kramer finally get his day in court. As would his long-suffering victims and their families, and probably even the concom of Dragoncon itself, at this point. But it's become obvious the only one who *doesn't* want that day to arrive is Kramer himself.

      As for my 'professionalism', as you so put it, I am professional enough to sign my full, real name.
    2. Brian Hammock posted on 09/06/2012 03:18 AM
      @Rob At this point I find your accusations of one and defense of another sicking and cannot find a logical argument in my head that would convince you how incredibly ignorant you sound. Do you honestly think Ed is sitting behind bars because of a stupid rumor?
  7. J. Hurdy posted on 09/10/2012 09:56 AM
    I understand a lot of people are still supporting Kramer and claiming his innocence, but I wonder if Kramer is innocent why he continues to delay a trial where he could prove his innocence once and for all. His shady tactics and creepy behavior certainly make him look guilty.
  8. Brandon R. Burton posted on 01/23/2013 03:54 PM
    Ed is guilty and Pual I'm happy to see not everyone stood behind that low life scum, Ed is going to have his day in court his sickness made that a reality and I can't wait to look that bastard in the eye when I give my testimony. Rob do not speak out of turn for you are either blind, ignorant, or are a sick freak just like Ed. I hide behind noone an my testimony to his actions towards me aren't for me to prove to any of you. They will be or the court if Ed ever mans up and stops running from me and the justice system.
  9. Anna posted on 01/28/2013 01:43 PM
    I've been attending DragonCon since 2008 and I have to say I'm unconcerned with Ed Kramer and his past association with the con. The key word here is past. Unless DragonCon was providing Ed Kramer with victims directly (as in handing them to him like a sick prize) I am not sure what the relationship is between his past involvement and the convention as it stands now. I also don't understand why the writer keeps comparing it to SDCC in a disparaging way. Most fans and con attendees would say all the comparisons that seem to reflect poorly on DC are actually good things. SDCC is too big, too commercial, and no longer focused on creators.
    1. Amy posted on 01/28/2013 04:41 PM
      @Anna Anna: It's true Kramer doesn't play an active role in DragonCon; and DragonCon did not handfeed any alleged victims to him. The issue at hand is Kramer's current financial association with the con--he makes more than $150k a year as an owner/investor. So the choice for many people is whether they want to contribute to Kramer's personal income by participating in DragonCon. So supporting DragonCon means supporting him. If that doesn't bother you, that's fine. And if it does, you can communicate that by not participating--or choose to participate anyway.
    2. Simon Tarses posted on 01/30/2013 04:55 PM
      @Anna At least SDCC doesn't have one big owner who gets paid and was trying to molest children-Dragon Con does.

      And to think, my local convention in Toronto had to die so that this big corporate one could come here and steamroller over it.
  10. Jenn posted on 01/28/2013 05:03 PM
    This is insane. Even if you were to discredit ALL the accusers of lying, the man still belongs in jail. He was granted such leeway on three conditions: 1. No out-of-state travel 2. No contact with minors and 3. Call in from a landline. He was given levity to do anything he wanted outside of those conditions under the pretense of being medically incapacitated and caring for a non-existent sick mother.

    He was FOUND, tromping healthily through the woods with camera equipment after a 14-year-old boy with whom he'd been COHABITING in BROOKLYN for the previous two MONTHS. Alone. The boy's mother joined them "sometimes." He bought a cellphone with a GA number to "spoof" his call-ins.

    WTF is the problem here?

    I'm disappointed. For a bunch of self-proclaimed atheists, agnostics, intellectuals and scholars of science and science-fiction, you sure are a bunch of willfully ignorant DOPES. What ever happened to EVIDENCE-BASED CONCLUSIONS? I know it's difficult to face some truths and you really don't want to doubt your hero here but these are backed by facts. It is time.

    The man was given several chances to live a life in relative freedom while he worked his case if he would just follow certain safety criteria. HE COULD NOT RESIST BREAKING THEM. He was so COMPELLED to cohabit with a youngster that he did so in spite of a no-contact order. Does that sound healthy or right to you?

    Getting a fat paycheck from DragonCon is enabling this. He's living in relative comfort and has gone without consequences for his actions for so long, he feels ENTITLED to CONTINUE them. Thanks. You have now created a MONSTER. This is a man who has had his proclivities "normalized" by fanfare and a castrated justice system--all sensitivity to guilt, fear, remorse or healthy respect for the rights of others eroded by time and tolerance. Try rehabilitating the man who has learned over the course of 20 years that there's ALWAYS A WAY to do whatever you want and game the system out of the consequences.

    It isn't fair. It isn't fair to the boys he raped and it isn't fair to that boy he lived with in his own sick version of "Casting Couch" for two months.

    Let's hope Anonymous hears about this real soon. You can bet *I'll* be memeing this article around. :)
    1. Simon Tarses posted on 01/30/2013 04:48 PM
      @Jenn Anonymous won't really care-they've got bigger fish to fry than what's going on behind the scenes at a sci-fi con.

      Want to stop this guy and shut off his money supply? Stop going to this convention until the people in charge buy back this con from him. That's all there is to it.
  11. demoncat4 posted on 01/28/2013 09:58 PM
    amazing that just when it looked like finaly Kramer has run out of luck and will finaly face some justice for his crimes. he manages to pull some rabbit out of his hat and is able to be back out and going after another victim. and when he is caught ed pulls the old i am the victim i did nothing wrong. hope this time lady luck manages to get to finaly unleash her wrath on kramer even though given all his medical issues sadly kramer may even after conviction will mange sadly to pull one more ace out of his evil hat and get free one more time.
  12. One Sided posted on 01/29/2013 03:32 AM
    Everyone seems to "forget" some of the history of things when they write these articles.

    Like how the accuser from 1997 recanted and those charges were dropped. That the search warrant executed on his home was so open ended and vague it violated State and Federal Constitutions.

    I was one of "Ed's kids" and nothing inappropriate happened. My younger brother was also one, and nothing untoward ever happened with either of us, nor any of our regular friends who spent time with Ed. Be it spelunking with Dave, or time at Chattacon running the D*C booth. Believe me, if anything like that were going on, I would not have let my brother be around him, much less myself. And in case anyone was wondering from the article above, the man could not hypnotize a chicken. (yes go look it up, you might learn something, it is called "tonic immobility")
    1. One Sided - How about a name? posted on 01/29/2013 10:40 PM
      @One Sided I like how you say you were one of Ed's Kids, but do not give your name or any evidence you were one. You could be just any old jokesters behind a keyboard.
  13. T. Nielsen Hayden posted on 01/30/2013 05:28 PM
    What hasn't DragonCon severed its financial ties with Ed Kramer before now? At a guess, because Kramer won't go quietly, and a public fight about its financial arrangements would make it all too clear that DragonCon is run for private profit. Many fans aren't aware of that. It would be an embarrassment for DragonCon, which depends on being able to use the unpaid labor of about 2,000 fannish volunteers every year. Fans are used to volunteering to work on other SF conventions, almost all of which are nonprofit organizations that don't make a lot of money, and that plow any surplus back into the community.

    You don't mind working long hours on a convention if you're doing it for your friends and for fandom in general. They do the same for you. But doing unpaid work for DragonCon when you know its owners have hired family members as full-time employees, and on top of that are making a profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, just isn't the same.
    1. Nancy A. Collins posted on 02/26/2013 02:20 AM
      @T. Nielsen Hayden As it turns out, it is a serious violation of federal labor law for a For-Profit corporation to use unpaid volunteers. That means DragonCon's entire business model is illegal.

      Some of the volunteers know DragonCon is a For Profit business, but I would argue most do not. The "fannish tradition" of volunteering to work conventions is one thing when you're talking about 100-1000 attendees over the course of 2-3 days. It's something else entirely when its 40K+ attendees over a 5 day span, and generating millions of dollars at the gate. Volunteering your time and effort for the betterment of fandom is one thing--having someone stuff their pockets to the tune of 150K due to free labor is another.
  14. One Mississippi posted on 02/05/2013 03:26 AM
    Why are the original comments gone?
    1. Jackson Reeves posted on 02/06/2013 11:09 AM
      @One Mississippi We recently moved the article from one section of our CMS to another, and our database team is currently working on moving the comments over. So they should all be here soon!
  15. bob posted on 02/15/2013 06:28 PM
    I just want to state that I was an "Ed kid" for many years between the ages of 10 and 16-17-ish. I spent a lot of nights at his house/con hotel rooms and went on many caving/camping trips with him. Absolutely nothing inappropriate ever happened to me or, to my knowledge, any of the other "Ed kids" that were around. While it seems pretty shady for him to violate his bond conditions the way he did, I mostly see it as him trying to get back to his way of life before the accusations. Which, if he's innocent, would make for far less shady circumstances -- relative to his usual behavior, anyway.
    1. Nancy A. Collins posted on 02/15/2013 09:28 PM
      @bob Just like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy didn't kill EVERYONE they met, serial pedophiles don't molest every kid that crosses their path--just the ones they think they can get away with, and who fit their own preferential profile.

      Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis is an excellent means of becoming educated as to what pedophiles actually do and how they think.
  16. sarah posted on 02/15/2013 09:25 PM
    Havent you ever heard that child molesters will often engage a large GROUP of victims and then hand pick a FEW to victimize. This is why they become coaches, and engage or start activities to attract groups of children. If he is innocent hes the STUPIDIST person on the planet for FLAGRANTLY violating his probation to hang out with a teenage boy. If I was innocent believe me I would adhere to my probation and be a model citizen and not be caught dead alone in a hotel room with a child. Saying you were an ed kid and he didnt molest you is like being an adult, knowing him and saying hes a great guy. It doesnt mean that with the kids hes accused of hurting he didnt hurt them.
showing all comments