DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer pleads guilty

DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer pleaded guilty this morning to child-molestation charges even as his long-delayed trial was set to get under way in Lawrenceville, Georgia. However, he won't spend any additional time in jail.

The Gwinnett Daily Post reports the 50-year-old Kramer entered guilty pleas three of the six counts in the original indictment, one for each of the teenage boys; the state agreed not to pursue the other charges. Under the agreement, the district attorney recommended a 20-year sentence, with Kramer serving five years on each count, to run concurrently. Because Kramer was previously jailed in Connecticut and Georgia for 26 months, he's left with 34 months -- which will be served under house arrest.

That sentence, as the newspaper notes, is likely because of the myriad health problems Kramer claims to suffer. He also was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to each of the three victims by July 2014, and is prohibited from interacting with anyone under the age of 16.

If convicted, he had faced 25-year mandatory minimum sentences on each of the charges, with two aggravated counts potentially carrying life sentences.

Kramer, who helped found the popular Atlanta sci-fi and fantasy convention a quarter-century ago, was originally arrested in August 2000 on charges that he sexually abused two teenage boys (a third later stepped forward). Although he resigned from the DragonCon board, as a founder he continued to receive annual dividends that made him wealthy enough that he was able to afford to file motion after motion to stall his criminal case for more than a decade -- all the while rebuffing efforts to buy out his stake in the convention.

A month after his initial incarceration in the Gwinnett County (Georgia) Jail following his August 2000 arrest, Kramer fell and hit his head, an injury that, when coupled with his other unusual health requirements, led to his release in November 2000 on $75,000 bond. He was back in jail within a few days — a neighbor reported seeing a teenage boy enter his home — but he was placed under house arrest following claims of a January 2001 assault by a deputy.

Even a reindictment to include a third alleged victim couldn’t keep the litigious Kramer in jail. His declining health, which apparently required the attention of 16 physicians, led to one hearing delay after another, and repeated petitions to the court resulted in 11 modifications to the conditions of his bond.

The next decade would see Kramer successfully petition for Social Security disability benefits and fail in a bid to emigrate to Israel, all while continuing to stall his prosecution. It wasn’t until Kramer was arrested in September 2011 in Connecticut on a bond violation — he was allegedly caught in a motel room with a 14-year-old boy — that he finally ended up back in jail. But even then, he fought extradition back to Georgia for more than a year.

The media attention surrounding Kramer's return to Georgia renewed scrutiny of his ties to DragonCon, and spurred author Nancy A. Collins to call for a boycott of the convention. That effort ended in July, when the DragonCon board revealed it had offered to buy out Kramer's shares in a merger in which a new company called Dragon Con Inc. absorbed the old DragonCon/Ace Inc. The party finally reached an out-of-court settlement last week that made the deal official.

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