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?

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Illustration by Jeffrey Smith

This story originally appeared in our September 2012 issue.

The stranger arrived at the movie set late in the evening. Crew members preparing for a long night’s shoot were told the short and stocky, heavily bearded man had come to watch over one of the film’s stars, a fourteen-year-old boy whose mother was leaving in a few hours for a flight to California. But that didn’t explain why the stranger, introduced as Ed Kramer, was busily assembling a shoulder-mounted camera rig to follow the cast and crew into the woods.

The moon was close to full that night, and as the group hiked along an uphill path to the shooting location, makeup artist Krystal Phillips felt uncomfortable. The man seemed to be filming a lot. Creepy, she thought.

It was mid-September of last year, and Phillips and her crewmates had already spent a week at Camp Katoya, an old Girl Scouts camp on the rural outskirts of Milford, Connecticut, that was serving as a location for The Penny Dreadful Picture Show, a middling-budget anthology horror film. In the segment they were shooting, teen scouts are taken on an overnight “snipe hunt” by older scouts trying to scare them, but the campers must fight for their lives when a real monster attacks.

With delicate features and flaxen hair, the young model and actor whom Kramer accompanied had more than a dozen credits in short films and TV projects to his name before coming to Connecticut. Still, Phillips felt protective of this “very adorable, skinny blond kid.” After filming a scene in which the boy gets mysteriously “slimed,” Phillips took him into a nearby cabin to clean him off. Kramer followed them inside.

“I had [the boy] take his shirt off and Ed wanted to help,” she recalls. “I was not okay with him wiping down the boy’s chest, so I said, ‘I’ve got this. It’ll be quicker if I do it.’”

A few minutes later, when she saw Kramer headed toward the room where she’d sent the boy to change, Phillips nudged production assistant Nick Vallas, who intercepted Kramer before he reached the door. While Kramer looked through the handful of release forms Vallas shoved at him, the boy finished dressing.

As the sun was rising and the crew was wrapping up for the day, Vallas left to drive Kramer and the boy, along with two other young actors and their mothers, to the Super 8, where many of the cast had been staying.

At the motel, Vallas dropped off his passengers and took on a new one: the boy’s mother, who needed a ride to the train station. The previous day, before Kramer had arrived, word had gotten around the set that he was accused of molesting three boys in Georgia years before. Although Kramer hadn’t been convicted, Vallas felt concerned enough to return to the motel after dropping off the boy’s mother.

The boy answered the door of room 101 holding a Styrofoam cup, his hair combed. He was wearing just a towel, Vallas later told police. Kramer was standing toward the back of the room, his camera equipment nearby.

Outside, Vallas called Phillips, who’d been Googling Kramer. At seven that morning, she called her mother, who phoned Georgia authorities. By noon Milford police had Kramer in custody. He was charged with “risk of injury to a minor,” a broad statute under Connecticut law that covers sexual assault, placing a child in physical danger, and a range of other crimes.

Squinting sleepily into the camera for his mug shot, with well-defined bags under his heavy-lidded eyes, Kramer appeared considerably older than his fifty years. His beard was graying and unkempt. His haggard face showed no expression.
It was Danny Porter who, after speaking with Krystal Phillips’s mother, made the call to Milford police that culminated in Kramer’s arrest. Porter is Gwinnett County’s district attorney, and in the two decades he’s had the job, his office’s caseload has grown proportionally with the county’s population. Today he oversees a staff of more than forty prosecutors. Like most district attorneys in large metro areas, Porter reserves the highest-profile cases for himself—heinous murders, public corruption, gang violence. Eight years ago, he decided to take the lead on one case his office simply could not close: Georgia v. Edward Kramer.

The Kramer case has been dragging on for twelve years. In August 2000, Kramer was charged with molesting two teenage brothers during sleepovers at his house earlier that summer. His arrest stemmed from an anonymous call to the Gwinnett Department of Family and Children Services. At the time, Kramer was thirty-nine and an established celebrity in gaming and science fiction fandom circles. He was, after all, a cofounder of DragonCon. In just a few years, his creation had become one of the biggest conventions of its kind in the country, filling Downtown Atlanta hotel rooms over a long weekend and pumping millions into the local economy.

The convention also made Kramer wealthy enough to hire attorneys who, in the wake of his arrest, filed motion after motion that kept his case from coming to trial. Months of delays would turn into years. By the time police knocked on the door of the Milford Super 8 last fall, Kramer had used the criminal justice system to accomplish what few accused felons—and even fewer accused child molesters—can: He was, in all practical respects, a free man, able to travel virtually as he pleased, with any real threat of a trial date postponed indefinitely.

This gnawed at Porter, a career prosecutor who joined the DA’s office straight out of the University of Georgia School of Law thirty-one years ago. Porter is slight of build but speaks in a raspy bark and possesses the no-nonsense directness of a man who earns his living sending people to prison. Courthouse observers know him as a workaholic who cares little for the trappings of his position, typically wearing cargo pants and T-shirts around his office on the second floor of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville.

With Kramer’s arrest in Milford, the case had become more than a personal affront to Porter; it was now an embarrassment. His office was supposed to be keeping track of his whereabouts, yet Porter had no idea Kramer was in Connecticut until he got the early morning phone call from Krystal Phillips’s mother. After Kramer’s arrest, a Connecticut judge released him on $50,000 bond. Porter, meanwhile, persuaded a Gwinnett judge to revoke Kramer’s local bond, making him a fugitive from justice. Within two weeks, Kramer was rearrested in Connecticut. His bail was raised to $2 million, effectively ensuring he would stay in custody while Porter tried to extradite him.

“This case has become a big swirl of lies,” Porter says. “It’s been a perversion of the system from the very beginning.”

Just before Kramer’s extradition hearing last December, Porter felt compelled to be there himself, so he flew to Connecticut. (Vallas, the production assistant who helped set into motion Kramer’s arrest, had died on October 9, when his car veered off the road and hit a telephone pole.) On the stand in Hartford Superior Court, four days before Christmas, Porter made clear why he’s so determined to bring Kramer back to stand trial.

“If the information that I received from Krystal Phillips was true . . . it was very similar in its method of operation to the allegations in our charge,” Porter told the court. “Mr. Kramer makes contact with young boys, promises them fame and fortune in the modeling industry or the movie industry, and then engages in molestation of them.”
On a late Saturday afternoon in May 1987, a thirteen-year-old boy named Richard Dinsmore was sitting by himself, leafing through the program guide at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, an outsider even among his fellow outsiders. He’d discovered the world of conventions a few months earlier and had talked friends into going, but their interest waned as his grew.

Now, as he waited in the Omni Hotel lobby to be picked up by his mother, a roundish man with dark hair and a full beard walked up and asked if he was there for the convention. They began talking. The man, who introduced himself as Ed Kramer, asked about the boy’s interests—at that time, Elfquest comic books—and boasted about his own fantasy convention, which was still a few months from its debut.

Dinsmore was immediately impressed with Kramer’s knowledge of comics, movies, and games. “Magnetic” is how Dinsmore remembers him.

At twenty-six, Kramer already had an impressive resume outside of the fantasy/sci-fi world. After getting a master’s in health administration from Emory, he’d spent much of the 1980s working in grant management and research for public health agencies and private substance-abuse firms. At various times, he volunteered at the DeKalb children’s shelter, where he counseled troubled teens, and even cochaired a foster-care review panel for juvenile courts. He also moonlighted as a photographer, shooting concerts for local papers like Open City.

Dinsmore was excited to hear Kramer’s plans for his own convention. It was to be called DragonCon, after the Dragon Alliance, an organizing group he’d formed with five fellow gaming geeks. Kramer had already scouted out the local competition—Magnum Opus Con, Dixie-Trek, PhoenixCon, Atlanta Comics Festival—but found their programming too narrowly focused or their presentations too amateurish. His festival would be comprehensive, he explained, giving equal time to role-playing gamers, Trekkies, anime fans, comic book buffs, and Tolkien scholars.

The two exchanged numbers. Growing up without a father at home, Dinsmore yearned for someone like Kramer who could be both friend and mentor. And when he first saw Kramer’s home, he was hooked. Crammed with fantasy-game figures, horror videos, comic books, and concert posters autographed by Gene Simmons and other rock-god heroes, the otherwise unremarkable two-story house on a cul-de-sac in Duluth was a fanboy’s playground.

Also, unlike Dinsmore’s peers, Kramer had a car and plenty of spending money. He took the boy to Braves games and surprised him with concert tickets. They went to dinner often, which could be somewhat embarrassing, Dinsmore recalls, as Kramer was a “nightmare customer,” frequently complaining about the food and service.

There was just one thing standing in the way of the boy’s new friendship. Early on, Kramer came over to the Dinsmore house to introduce himself to Richard’s mother. “My mom thought Ed was a creepy dude and couldn’t understand why he wanted to hang out with me,” Dinsmore says. “I think she used the word inappropriate in every conversation we ever had about him.”

Still, as a divorced parent working full-time while raising three boys, she was stretched thin, Dinsmore says, and often didn’t have the time or energy to argue about whether her thirteen-year-old could go out with his grown-up friend.

For at least two years, Dinsmore slept over at Kramer’s house nearly every other weekend and stayed in his hotel suite during DragonCon. They’d watch movies (The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the raciest title he can remember), play Dungeons & Dragons, and talk about sci-fi books, rock albums, and other things that occupy the minds of teenage boys.

Except girls. “I never knew Ed to have a girlfriend,” says Dinsmore, adding that Kramer never asked him about school crushes or mentioned women in his own life. At the time, he says, this didn’t seem odd, perhaps because Kramer was five foot six and roughly 200 pounds, with skin covered in flaky red splotches from his virulent psoriasis, and shoulders coated with dandruff.

Still, Kramer had a self-confidence—his vanity license plate read “MAGNUS,” Latin for “great,” Dinsmore recalls—that made him easy to admire. “He always thought he was smarter than anyone else in the room,” Dinsmore says.

The only time he felt uncomfortable around his older friend was at night, when the young Dinsmore would lie down on a cot next to his host’s bed. Sometimes Kramer would crouch next to the boy in the dark and ask to hypnotize him.

“He’d say, ‘I need to practice,’” says Dinsmore. “It would get weird for a minute and then he’d say, ‘Oh well, guess I have to work on it,’ and get back into bed.”

As time went by, Dinsmore’s classmates began teasing him about spending so much time with a man twice his age. The sleepovers became less frequent. Then, when Dinsmore was fifteen, he moved to Tennessee to live with his father. He was eighteen when he returned, but Kramer made little effort to reconnect.

By then, Dinsmore says, the DragonCon impresario had a throng of younger boys tagging behind him. Convention insiders referred to them as “Ed’s kids.”
The first DragonCon, in October 1987, drew a crowd of 1,400—a solid success, made even more impressive by the guest speakers, who included fantasy novelist Michael Moorcock and D&D cocreator Gary Gygax. Within its first few years, the event doubled in size, then doubled again, outgrowing the Piermont Plaza Hotel (now the Meliá) and then the Omni, before settling into the Hilton and expanding to the other flagship Downtown hotels.

During DragonCon’s first twelve years or so, it was Kramer who clearly called the shots. While cofounder Pat Henry (no relation to this writer), an accountant by trade, kept the books, Kramer served as manager, negotiating sponsorships, enforcing vendor agreements, and using his networking skills to wrangle such top-shelf celebrities as writers Clive Barker and George R.R. Martin, artist Brian Froud, filmmaker Kevin Smith, and half the cast of Star Wars.

One by one, the older, fan-driven Atlanta cons folded, unable to compete with the newcomer’s catch-all approach and Kramer’s flair for publicity and aggressive style as a booker. Over time, the event expanded in all directions—multitudes of celebrity guests; dozens of separate fan tracks covering every conceivable genre and subculture, from filk-singing to Buffy the Vampire Slayer; live music; acres of dealer booths; and, this year, no fewer than eight separate costume contests.

Sci-fi writer and environmental scientist James Anderson III, an early DragonCon guest and Kramer acquaintance, says he became dismayed as the event began to incorporate racier elements, such as girls in skimpy costumes and S&M demonstrations. Before long, he recalls, the Atlanta fest had developed a reputation as a party con where nerds came hoping to hook up.

But Kramer’s efforts to build on his festival’s success come as little surprise given that it’s always been a business. Unlike such venerable cons as San Diego’s Comic-Con International and Philadelphia’s Philcon, DragonCon was created by its six founders as a profit-making enterprise.

Eventually Kramer and Henry bought out fellow shareholders until they each owned a one-third stake in what, by 1993, had formally been incorporated as the private, for-profit DragonCon/ACE Inc. The rest of the company is owned by several minority shareholders. Although Kramer didn’t draw a salary as DragonCon’s chairman and CEO, his ownership interest meant he could run the event as he saw fit.

Meanwhile Kramer was parlaying his contacts into other moneymaking ventures, such as editing horror story anthologies and putting together movie deals. In 2000 Kramer directed and cowrote Terror at Tate Manor, a direct-to-Internet splatter film costarring one of the boys he would later be accused of molesting.

Ken Johnston, a Georgia Renaissance Festival veteran who gave sword-fighting demonstrations during DragonCon’s early years, remembers Kramer as “a typical promoter”: promising big, sometimes following through, sometimes not. He also heard the salacious whispers about “Ed’s kids” but brushed them off as gossip.

Johnston, who now serves as executive director of the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, recalls, “I never saw Ed do anything untoward with a minor, but yes, he was constantly surrounded by young boys.”
Kramer was arrested on August 25, 2000, two months after that year’s DragonCon. Initially denying him bond, Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Debra Turner declared Kramer a threat to the community. The indictment accused him of fondling the genitals of two brothers, then thirteen and fifteen. According to Porter, the boys’ mother told police that she and Kramer had been dating for three years but had never had sex.

Kramer’s arrest caused a stir among gamers and conventioneers. Cofounder Henry and such prominent DragonCon guests as Harlan Ellison and Anne McCaffrey offered outraged testimonials in Kramer’s defense, while Kramer’s many hangers-on took to online forums to question the honesty of his alleged victims and disparage the motives of his accusers. Those who publicly cited evidence of Kramer’s alleged guilt, like horror writer Nancy Collins, found themselves ostracized from the convention circuit.

Almost from the moment he was assigned a cell in the Gwinnett County Jail, Kramer began lodging formal grievances that would hint at the apparent strategy he’d employ for the next decade: Delay, distract, and paint himself as the true victim. For instance, the “one-size-fits-all” shoes issued by the county didn’t have adequate traction; the jailers wouldn’t switch off TV news coverage of his case, thus exposing him as an accused child molester to fellow prisoners; his medical needs—especially his psoriatic arthritis, which left him with bleeding lesions—were being ignored.

A month into his incarceration, Kramer fell and hit his head. Having undergone surgery when he was fifteen to fuse vertebrae in his neck, he now complained of pain and numbness and was given an MRI. The doctor who reviewed his scan said Kramer had suffered serious trauma and risked paralysis if he didn’t receive another spinal fusion. Eventually Judge Turner simply allowed him to schedule his own medical appointments.

On the strength of his unusual health demands, including twice-daily oatmeal baths he claimed were needed to treat his skin condition, Kramer was released on $75,000 bond in early November 2000. But he was back in jail only a few days later, after a neighbor reported seeing a teenage boy enter his house.

Within weeks, Kramer claimed that a deputy attempting to break up a food fight between inmates had assaulted him, smashing his head into a cinder block wall. In late January 2001, Judge Turner again yielded to Kramer’s complaints by granting him the first in a long series of bond modifications. Kramer would be allowed to stay under house arrest, wearing an ankle monitor, as long as he had no further contact with children under the age of sixteen.

“Ed Kramer is an incredibly difficult inmate,” Porter says. “As soon as he puts on an orange jumpsuit, he becomes an invalid. He makes it so difficult and expensive to keep him in confinement that he just wears everyone down.”

In October 2003, Kramer was reindicted to incorporate a third alleged victim. Still, the criminal case stalled, with several scheduled trial dates passing as Kramer requested delays for health reasons. He underwent a second round of spinal fusion surgery, followed by a gastric bypass procedure, and later was allowed to make trips to a New Jersey clinic for treatment and still more surgery.

Meanwhile he petitioned the court for permission to leave the house to attend certain orthodox Jewish worship services. In all, the court granted eleven separate bond modifications, Porter says, each one giving Kramer more freedom to come and go as he pleased.

“First, it’s the High Holy Days, then it’s, ‘I want to go to the synagogue every Sabbath,’” says Porter. “It became a campaign of attrition to reduce the terms of his bond. He just nickel-and-dimes you to death.”

In late 2003, Kramer was rear-ended while stopped at a train crossing. Two years later, he sued the driver, claiming the impact had resulted in pressure on his spinal cord that made breathing difficult and physical exertion unbearably painful. The lawsuit added that, sixteen months after the accident, Kramer “was being followed by no fewer than sixteen physicians and taking at least fifty-three medications.”

They included Arava and Celebrex for arthritis, hydrocodone for pain, Lexapro for depression, Lipitor for cholesterol, Metformin for diabetes, Oxsoralen-Ultra for psoriasis, Provigil for narcolepsy, Singulair for asthma, Topamax for seizures, and Zyrtec for allergies—as well as various inhalers, respirators, therapeutic cushions, and hearing aids.

In public Kramer leaned heavily on a cane or rode a mobility scooter. Much of his face was often covered with a ventilator mask to help him breathe. Yet court records suggest even Kramer was confused about how he’d gotten so injured. In an unsuccessful personal-injury lawsuit against the county jail, he downplayed the 2003 car accident. But in his suit against the driver—later settled for an undisclosed sum—he claimed that the earlier attack by a jailhouse deputy had resulted in “minor injuries.”

Even so, in 2005 Kramer succeeded in being declared eligible for Social Security disability, with federal Judge Dana McDonald retroactively granting him benefits going back to 2000. And his criminal trial was put on hold again for several months in 2006 while he traveled to Israel for ten days in a failed effort to emigrate. Porter says he agreed to the scheme after consulting with Kramer’s three accusers, who then wanted to put the case behind them.

In late 2006, six years after first being indicted, Kramer attempted to get his criminal charges dismissed by suing Porter’s office for dragging its heels in prosecuting him. Kramer accused Porter in court arguments of attempting to “banish” him, even though, Porter says, the proposed move to Israel had been Kramer’s own idea.

An appeals court, however, concluded that the majority of delays in the criminal case had been caused by the defendant: “The record strongly indicates that Kramer sought or knowingly acquiesced in the delay and that he did not want a speedy trial.”
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.
By the spring of 2009, Kramer was, by most measures, a free man. The previous year, in response to his claims that medical bills and legal fees had left him destitute, Judge Karen Beyers effectively freed him to sell his house and move to Chamblee to care for his elderly, cancer-stricken mother. (Beyers followed Judge Turner, who recused herself in 2007 amid accusations of anti-Semitism from Kramer supporters—despite her being raised Jewish.)

Then, at an April 2009 hearing, Beyers placed the molestation case in limbo until Kramer’s health improved enough to withstand the rigors of trial. The court also had ordered his ankle monitor removed, a minor concession to a man who appeared to walk only with great difficulty and could scarcely breathe without the aid of machines.

Kramer had three bond conditions: Stay away from minors, no travel without authorization, and call the DA’s office every Monday to report his whereabouts. Last year Beyers even allowed Kramer to move to Brooklyn temporarily so he could be with his mother in hospice. Presumably the judge didn’t know that Kramer’s mother was already dead.

After Kramer’s arrest in Connecticut, Porter discovered that, instead of using a landline phone for his weekly call-ins, as mandated by the court, Kramer had called from a cell phone that disguised his location. And he learned that, in the months before his arrest, Kramer also had visited a film set outside Fort Knox, Kentucky, and had taken meetings with movie producers in California.

In Kentucky, Kramer put up $500 in funding toward a web series called The Brothers Barbarian and visited the set for a day in May 2011, says Larry Elmore, who was involved with the project. After hearing of his arrest in Connecticut, the producers returned Kramer’s money.

Ray Ellingsen, a founder of Moving Pictures Media Group in La Jolla, California, says he had several meetings in Los Angeles with Kramer about projects that never came to fruition. Afterward, Ellingsen had to have attorneys instruct Kramer to stop telling people he was involved with some of the company’s projects. This summer, Kramer’s Facebook page still claimed he “heads the Multimedia Rights division” for Moving Pictures Media Group. Ellingsen says his company has no such division.

More troubling to Porter than Kramer’s apparent bond violations were his alleged interactions with children. At the Milford police station following Kramer’s arrest last year, the fourteen-year-old boy told police he and Kramer had been living in Brooklyn together for two months, and that his mother had lately joined them. Asked if he’d ever been touched inappropriately, the boy told police that Kramer never “hurt him or touched him,” according to the report. When the boy’s mother arrived at the police station, she said she’d met Kramer online more than a year earlier and that he was a “nice person, a religious person” and would never hurt her son. Kramer himself, when asked by police if he’d ever touched the boy inappropriately, responded that he had not, that it would be against his religion. Police also phoned Brian Colby, of Colby Models, in New York. Colby said that two other boys who work as models were staying at Kramer’s apartment.

But it is accounts of Kramer’s unaided rambles through the Connecticut woods and the Kentucky countryside that have given Porter the ammunition he believes will finally force Kramer to trial.

Accounts of his alleged robustness have already cost Kramer his principal defense attorney. Earlier this year, veteran litigator Edwin Marger withdrew from the criminal case over Kramer’s objections. Kramer’s only attorney of record remaining on the criminal case is former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who did not return calls.

Says Marger, “I left Mr. Kramer because I didn’t feel I could any longer present evidence to a court that I believed in. If what has been reported in Connecticut is factual, then it appears the judge may have been misled, as was I.”

Assuming Kramer loses his extradition appeal and is finally returned to Georgia, Porter expects the judge to order a medical exam to make sure that the defendant is indeed healthy enough for a two-week trial.

While Kramer may have trouble holding on to attorneys, he still has a cohort of supporters. From the start, Kramer partisans have waged a canny public relations campaign that has involved online message board postings that attack his accusers and the Gwinnett police, articles by sympathetic reporters and bloggers, a Free Ed website filled with personal testimonials to Kramer’s innocence, and a legal defense fund—as well as the slurs against Judge Turner that were amplified by a 2004 article in Atlanta Jewish Life that portrayed Kramer as a victim of legal persecution and anti-Semitism. Kramer himself told Milford police that his Georgia arrest had “been under false pretenses” and that the alleged victims were “coerced into saying untruthful things.”

Dave Robison, who owns a T-shirt printing business in Snellville, knows Kramer through DragonCon and bonded with him through a mutual love of caving. He still believes his friend to be a victim of false accusations and political persecution. “He tried to help out young people and it turned around and bit him in the ass,” he says.

For now, Kramer occupies a cell in MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in Suffield, Connecticut. Porter says it’s one of the only facilities in the state that’s equipped to deal with Kramer’s medical demands. “This isn’t a complicated case,” Porter says. “I have my victims, witnesses, and evidence. I’ve already prepared for trial five times.”

Even though Porter is confident he could win a guilty verdict, he worries about Kramer’s incarceration. After all, Kramer, who spent the last decade frustrating and manipulating the state’s legal system to put off his trial, could soon have a new objective: medical reprieve.

“If Ed Kramer’s convicted tomorrow and sentenced to twenty years, what’s the Georgia prison system going to do with him?” Porter says. “The chances of him serving significant time, given the costs of maintaining him, are negligible. That’s the elephant in the room and he probably knows it.”

Since Kramer’s arrest in Connecticut, Richard Dinsmore has been forced to reassess the nature of their onetime relationship. Now thirty-eight and living in Newnan, Dinsmore is married with a ten-year-old son. A few years back, Dinsmore and his wife bought lifetime passes to DragonCon, but he admits that its longtime association with Kramer gives him an “icky feeling.”

“At this point, I’m pretty much at peace with all that happened,” he says. “But I have a really hard time wondering if some kids who came after me are screwed up because I helped Ed perfect his game.”

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Comments

  1. Richard Dinsmore

    August 31, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Excellent article, Mr. Henry. Thank you.

    Reply

    1. Rob

      September 5, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      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.

      Reply

      1. Nancy A. Collins

        September 6, 2012 at 2:16 am

        Why the hell would anyone with half a brain, at this point, still bother defending Ed Kramer–a man who lied about his own mother’s death and whose own family members are now turning away from ?

        http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=3861189345947649796&postID=8043564744412156484

        You are one poisonous, enabling piece of work, buddy.

        Reply

        1. Mark Rowe

          October 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm

          As an Ed kid I can say I never knew you or heard of you so you are ignorant, but willing to act like the authority. For your own soul, please don’t stain a person in a situation you obviously know nothing about. It’s easy to say “that child molester should burn”, what I am saying is. I think he was wrongly accused. What you are implying is that he is guilty. Ignorance spews hatred and it is more obvious in this case than most.

          Mark Rowe

          Reply

      2. Brian Hammock

        September 6, 2012 at 7:12 am

        Something tells me Richard was drug into this, not driving it. Clearly as an adult he looked at the past and saw what was happening. Did anything in this article make you believe he led the charge?
        I don’t see it.

        Reply

      3. Helen

        January 28, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        you know – touch isn’t the only way to abuse people. People can be abused in lots of different ways, and just because it doesn’t involved touvhing doesn’t mean that the impact on them is any less.
        I am NOT saying that Mr Dinsmore wasn’t touched, because I only have the information from the article above, and I don’t know the full details of the relationship, but just to have things get ‘weird for a minute’ could be enough to impact on someone for life.

        Reply

    2. JasonH_8847

      September 12, 2012 at 6:43 am

      @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?

      Reply

    3. Richard Pini

      January 29, 2013 at 2:54 am

      This comes months after the article in Atlanta magazine was published, but we’ve only today become aware of it. Mr.Dinsmore, wherever you are now, we hope you are well, or at least dealing on a level emotional field with what happened. While ours can’t begin to compare to your own, there are no words to describe the crawling unease Wendy and I experienced upon reading – by name – that it was Elfquest that sparked Ed Kramer to make his move. To whatever extent the story we’ve been telling for 35 years still connects you to us, we want to reach out a supporting hand.

      Reply

    4. Mark Rowe

      October 9, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      Richard this is Mark, if it is you then, I don’t understand why you are a part of this. He helped you me and scores of other people, how dare you imply he ever did anything but help us. Was he weird to the common guy? Yeah, he was the star wars freak in the room at 23. Big Bang is probably based on him a little. However, he was nice, considerate and never in the 8 + years did I ever hear about any of this across 100′s of kids. He was cool because he knew TSR, and record labels, he could hack video games and taught me how to code, (IM a software developer now). Gave me a trs-80 and 500 dollars worth of tape and amdex drives. Advised me about how drugs were bad and took care of anyone who needed it……WTH man. I don’t think he did this. I am a little disappointed in the bandwagon of hatred. Is it possible Yes? it is probably not at all. he had plenty of kids who’s parents didn’t care who he could have attacked if that was his game. and never once in almost a decade. That is a better ratio than most teachers.

      -Done Mark

      Reply

  2. traci

    August 31, 2012 at 3:06 am

    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.

    Reply

  3. Tess Fowler

    August 31, 2012 at 4:39 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.

    Reply

    1. Rob

      September 5, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      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.

      Reply

  4. Nancy A. Collins

    August 31, 2012 at 6:28 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.

    Reply

    1. Rachel

      January 30, 2013 at 2:36 am

      Why would anyone ever assume that dragoncon is non-profit?

      Reply

      1. T. Nielsen Hayden

        January 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm

        Rachel –

        They would assume it because most SF conventions are non-profit. They rely on unpaid volunteer work by members of the SF community, which keeps down costs so that more people can afford to attend.

        When Ed Kramer and his partners started DragonCon, there was already a lively convention scene, part of the larger fannish community. Kramer & Co. didn’t build that. What they did was privatize and monetize it, competing aggressively with other local and regional conventions. That doesn’t make Ed Kramer and his partners superior competitors. What it makes them is exploitive jerks who rely on the fannish community’s strong traditions of inclusiveness, cooperation, and mutual assistance (i.e., providing unpaid labor at conventions).

        Did you notice the bit in the article about how even now, a quarter-century after they started, DragonCon still annually uses about 2,000 unpaid volunteers? That’s fandom at work. I was particularly horrified to hear that DragonCon charges newbie volunteers $20 apiece for the privilege of donating their labor. At most SF conventions, which traditionally plow surplus profits (if they make any) back into the community, low-level newbie gophers would be among the first in line to get their memberships refunded.

        So that’s why the profit angle is relevant. It might be more apparent that most SF cons aren’t run that way if you lived in another part of the country. You’re unlikely to find it out on your own if you live within DragonCon’s reach.

        While we’re on the subject, kudos to Scott Henry for accurately nailing down these and other details about the history and context in which DragonCon operates. I’m impressed. It’s a part of the story that would have been easy to get wrong. He’s clearly done his homework.

        Reply

  5. paul

    September 5, 2012 at 4:57 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.

    Reply

  6. Rob

    September 5, 2012 at 10:50 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.

    Reply

    1. Nancy A. Collins

      September 6, 2012 at 2:03 am

      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.

      Reply

    2. Brian Hammock

      September 6, 2012 at 7:18 am

      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?

      Reply

    3. Helen

      January 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      @Rob

      If Ed Kramer is as innocent as you think, why won’t he go to court? If he is innocent, and if none of the boys has made statements, then surely going to court would see him cleared and vindicated, and his accusers would then have nothing to talk about.

      To me the very fact that he won’t go to court, that he keeps managing to postpone his trial and to manipulate the system to such an extent makes me believe his guilt. An innocent man would want to prove it and only a guilty person would avoid trial as much as possible for so long.

      @Ed Kramer – just let the trial go ahead and prove your innocence (if of course you are innocent!)

      Reply

    4. T. Nielsen Hayden

      January 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Rob, let’s stop talking about Nancy Collins and talk about Ed Kramer instead. He’s been delaying and obfuscating this case non-stop for twelve years. I don’t know whether you’ve ever been a participant in a legal case, but it’s extremely stressful. The witnesses who dropped out were sick of dealing with this unreasonably prolonged case, and just wanted to get on with their lives.

      Ed Kramer has zero interest in letting the facts be aired. At no point has his strategy been aimed at getting the facts presented and the case heard. Instead, his strategy has been to wear everyone down until they quit pursuing the case out of sheer exhaustion.

      And speaking of facts: You know my real name. You know Nancy Collins’s real name. We don’t know yours. We don’t know who you are, or what your interest is in this case. But that’s par for the course, isn’t it? Over the years, Ed Kramer has had a lot of anonymous defenders who wrote in roughly the same style and were impressively familiar with the labyrinthine details of his case. If you want an example that isn’t you, have a look at the weblog “Free Ed.” It’s anonymously written, has been around since 2007, and is a morass of obfuscation, misrepresentation, special pleading, and amazingly tendentious arguments on behalf of Ed Kramer. It doesn’t discuss what really happened. Instead, it’s about how nobody’s case against Ed Kramer is any good, for one reason or another (or another or another or another).

      “Free Ed” hasn’t yet gone after the prosecutor’s office for never proving that all those alleged misdeeds weren’t actually committed by a shapechanging Skrull, but I figure it’s only a matter of time.

      What we do know: Ed Kramer was recently arrested in Milford, Connecticut, where he wasn’t supposed to be. He’d gotten permission to go to Brooklyn to visit his dying mother, neglecting to mention as he did so that she’d been dead for six months.

      By report, this man who’s been too unwell to stand trial was tromping around on hiking trails in the Connecticut woods with a camera rig on his shoulder. What he didn’t have were the cane, breathing apparatus, and electric wheelchair that have featured so prominently in his explanations about how he’s too ill to stand trial.

      Kramer was not part of the film crew. He was following around a film crew that was shooting a middle-budget horror movie involving a fourteen-year-old actor. A makeup artist who was working on the shoot was sufficiently creeped out by his behavior around the kid that she started checking around, then googling around, then phoning her mother, who phoned the Georgia authorities, who got in touch with the Milford police, who came and arrested him.

      Ed Kramer, who has been fighting child molestation charges tooth and claw for the last twelve years, and who has been ordered by the court to not hang around with kids under sixteen, was staying in a motel room with a fourteen-year-old boy. Whose mother was away in California. Whose guardian Kramer claimed to be when the police showed up.

      Rob, are you going to argue that Ed Kramer is so stupid that it never occurred to him that this might be a problem? Given what’s at stake, if Kramer isn’t dumber than a bag of hammers, we have to be looking at compulsive or very strongly motivated behavior involving inappropriate attachment to underage boys.

      Kramer has also lost his defense attorney, and everyone now knows that his supposed physical frailty was a lie. The only attorney that can now be said to represent him is Bob Barr — this guy: http://www.salon.com/2002/06/14/barr_2/ — and Barr isn’t answering his phone.

      Give it up. Stop counterattacking. There’s nothing left.

      Reply

  7. J. Hurdy

    September 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    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.

    Reply

  8. Brandon R. Burton

    January 23, 2013 at 8:54 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.

    Reply

  9. Anna

    January 28, 2013 at 6:43 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.

    Reply

    1. Amy

      January 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      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.

      Reply

    2. Simon Tarses

      January 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      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.

      Reply

      1. Tiffany

        May 25, 2013 at 6:31 am

        Wat? D*C is in Atlanta. Nowhere near Toronto. The con has definitely never been anywhere near Toronto, and has always been in Atlanta. I don’t see your logic on how it “came here and steamrollered over it” because it never came anywhere near there.

        Reply

  10. Jenn

    January 28, 2013 at 10:03 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. :)

    Reply

    1. Simon Tarses

      January 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      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.

      Reply

  11. demoncat4

    January 29, 2013 at 2:58 am

    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.

    Reply

  12. One Sided

    January 29, 2013 at 8:32 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”)

    Reply

    1. One Sided – How about a name?

      January 30, 2013 at 3:40 am

      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.

      Reply

      1. Nancy A. Collins

        January 30, 2013 at 4:00 am

        The charges from 1996 were, indeed, dropped by the original accuser–who is now dead. However, investigators on the case made notations that it was obvious that the victim had recanted under duress. In 2000 the original accuser came forward again and the 1996 charges were added to those in 2000. Sadly, the DA will no doubt have to drop those charges again due to the original accuser having been murdered.

        But what I want to know is what, exactly, were the details behind the Sparkles Scandal? Kramer was a manager of a Sparkles Roller Skating Rink at one point in the 1980s and something happened that was always alluded to in hushed tones in DragonCon circles but never openly discussed. What was it?

        Reply

      2. One Sided

        January 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

        My first name is James, though family calls me Michael. If you would like a better time frame reference as to when I knew Ed, it was before Elric: Tales of the White Wolf was published. It is easily memorable for me because I was the one asked to open the plain brown envelope, sitting in the table, containing a manuscript. Inside were the typed pages, the words the world had not yet seen of Gary Gygax’s story contained in the above mentioned volume of work.

        As you can see from Mr. Henry’s story and following comments, there can be quite a bit of backlash on either side of the guilty/innocent positions, so I have not included my last name at this time.

        Reply

  13. T. Nielsen Hayden

    January 30, 2013 at 10:28 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.

    Reply

    1. Nancy A. Collins

      February 26, 2013 at 7:20 am

      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.

      http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/volunteers.asp

      http://djillpugh.typepad.com/employee_handbooks/2008/11/a-for-profit-business-cannot-have-volunteers.html

      http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/775/volunteers-at-for-profit-companies-should-they-be-paid

      Reply

      1. Tiffany

        May 25, 2013 at 8:31 am

        Con staff are compensated for their time with a complimentary convention badge. The operative word being compensated. Thanks for playing.

        Reply

        1. John Karabaic

          July 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

          Compensation with a badge isn’t pay. You can’t pay less than minimum wage, and the requirements for volunteers and interns are much different than for employees. There’s a recent case involving Fox Searchlight and the interns for the movie Black Swan.

          Reply

  14. One Mississippi

    February 5, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Why are the original comments gone?

    Reply

    1. Jackson Reeves

      February 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      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!

      Reply

  15. bob

    February 15, 2013 at 11:28 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.

    Reply

    1. Nancy A. Collins

      February 16, 2013 at 2:28 am

      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.

      http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC70.pdf

      Reply

  16. sarah

    February 16, 2013 at 2:25 am

    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.

    Reply