Writer Nancy A. Collins, who led the charge for a boycott of DragonCon because of its financial ties to co-founder, and accused child molester, Ed Kramer, ended that call on Monday after organizers announced they’ve transferred ownership of the Atlanta convention to a new legal entity and have offered to buy out Kramer’s shares.
Kramer, who’s in jail awaiting trial on child-molestation charges that date back 13 years, hasn’t been involved in the operation of the event since 2000, but continued to receive annual dividends because of his stake in the for-profit corporation. He’s said to have made $154,000 from DragonCon in 2011 alone.
“Barring unforeseen events, I am now officially calling off the boycott,” Collins said in a statement to The Beat. “It’s interesting to see that something that had not been done and supposedly *couldn’t* be done for nearly 13 years somehow managed to be implemented in less than 6 months. I would like to thank those professionals who took a stand and vocally supported the boycott of DragonCon, as well as the many fans who have done so as well. You looked the dragon in the eye and made it blink. And have no doubt, it was your unified efforts, actions and voices that made this happen, and nothing else. It was you, and no one else, who were responsible for this cancer finally being cut from Fandom.”
Heidi MacDonald, who supported the boycott, added: “Collins took a lot of flak for being so immovable in her insistence at getting at the truth; people just wanted to have a good time and didn’t want to have to think about the possible ethical ramifications. For this, they resented her. Unfortunately sometimes a few people have to become unpopular in order for the right things to be done.”
Kramer was originally arrested on charges of molesting three teenage boys between 1996 and 2000 but managed to stay out of court through a combination of legal maneuvers and claims of bad health. He was arrested again in September 2011 in Connecticut after he was allegedly found alone in a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy; the conditions of Kramer’s bond restricted his travel and prohibited him from having any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16. He was extradited back to Georgia in January 2013 to face six counts of child molestation. A judge denied him bond in April, citing concerns that Kramer may not adhere to the conditions of the order.
Collins first called for a boycott in January, following Kramer’s extradition, claiming that DragonCon organizers could cut ties with the co-founder if they wanted to. Organizers responded with a statement that certainly made it seem like they were painted into a corner:
Since Edward Kramer’s arrest in 2000, we have made multiple attempts to sever all ties between Edward Kramer and Dragon*Con including several efforts to buy Edward Kramer’s stock shares. Unfortunately, Edward Kramer’s response to our buyout efforts was repeated litigation against Dragon*Con…thus our buyout efforts have been stalled. The idea proposed of dissolving the company and reincorporating has been thoroughly investigated and is not possible at this point. Legally, we can’t just take away his shares. We are unfortunately limited in our options and responses as we remain in active litigation.
Yet somehow they found a way. Dragon Con/ACE Inc. merged into Dragon Con Inc. in a merger that keeps five of the six founding owners in the mix but leaves Kramer out; he has been offered a cash payout. While the press release doesn’t say whether Kramer has accepted the deal, Collins noted in a comment at The Beat that he is deeply in debt, and it’s her understanding that he loses the money if he contests the buyout. Speaking to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the attorney who’s represented the litigious Kramer in his lawsuits against DragonCon, described the merger as a “discriminatory squeeze-out,” and said to expect a legal challenge.
DragonCon spokesman Greg Euston told the newspaper that the company had previously offered three times to buy Kramer’s shares for $500,000 (in 2004, 2006 and 2008).
Collins’ boycott was unpopular in some circles, and there were some harsh comments in the thread at The Beat. But the last comment in the thread, by Eva Hopkins, points to what the real priorities should be: keeping pressure on the Gwinnett County, Georgia, district attorney to ensure that Kramer is finally brought to trial.