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

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.”