Dragon Con co-founder avoids prison

Dragon Con co-founder avoids prison

The guilty pleas Dragon Con co-founder Edward Kramer filed Monday on child molestation charges close a lengthy and bizarre chapter in the science fiction impresario’s history.

Three separate teens — two of them brothers — accused the 52-year-old Kramer of sexually abusing them. After more than a dozen years and numerous delays, the trial that was to begin Monday ended before it started with Kramer’s plea.

Kramer pleaded guilty late Monday morning to three counts of child molestation for allegations dating back to 1996, according to reports.

As a first-time offender, he was sentenced to 20 years, but will only serve five under confinement. Kramer has already served 26 months of that 5-year sentence. He will spend the remaining 34 months under house arrest, prosecutors said. After his house arrest, Kramer will be on probation for the remainder of his sentence.

“It’s amazing to finally have some type of closure,” said the first of Kramer’s victims to come forward during a victim’s impact statement Monday at the Gwinnett County Courthouse. “I really don’t know what to say.”

Another told the court that he had struggled with relationships and intimacy until he met his wife.

“It doesn’t affect me on a day-to-day basis, but it is paralyzing when it does set in,” he said. “I wanted to let the court and Ed know that, even now at 28 years old, it’s still something I deal with.”

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution does not identify victims of sexual crimes.

Kramer’s attorney McNeill Stokes told reporters Monday afternoon that his client, wheelchair bound and breathing from an oxygen tank following a jailhouse spinal injury, simply couldn’t endure a lengthy trial.

“He’s almost paralyzed,” Stokes said. “That was very much a factor. He maintains his innocence although he (pleaded) guilty because he … doesn’t think he can go through a trial.”

Kramer, his attorney said, entered an Alford plea — that is, he pleaded guilty without actually admitting to any wrongdoing.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter pointed out that the result was the same, regardless of how Kramer made his guilty plea.

“If it made him feel better not to have to say ‘I did it,’ then what difference does that make in the end?” Porter said.

In exchange for Kramer’s guilty pleas to three counts of child molestation, prosecutors nullified three counts of aggravated child molestation.

He must also pay each of the three victims $100,000 in restitution and register as a sex offender for life, Porter said. Porter said he was pleased with the outcome.

“The defense counsel and I have been negotiating for some time about a resolution of this case that would spare the victims testimony to let them get some closure,” Porter said.

When some Dragon Con attendees threatened to boycott the annual event if Kramer continued to profit from it, his co-founders bought his shares in the company.

Gwinnett’s top prosecutor said he “wanted to divest him of some of the Dragon Con profits.

“We … wanted to try and get (the victims) some restitution for the years of suffering that they went through,” Porter said.

The abrupt end to Kramer’s saga with the legal system seems to be par for the course, following a bizarre string of events that put off the case for 13 years.

In October 2000, Kramer was accused of sodomizing the younger of two brothers at the science fiction enthusiast’s Duluth home. Weeks later, the older of the brothers came forward with his own set of allegations.

And just before he was due to go to trial in 2003, a third accuser claimed Kramer molested him in 1996.

His trial was postponed in May 2004 after an 11th-hour announcement from Kramer’s attorney that he’d undergone major surgery.

Four years later, a judge released Kramer from house arrest and electronic monitoring under the condition that he stay away from his accusers and any potential witnesses. He also was ordered to avoid contact with anyone under the age of 16.

In 2009, a judge indefinitely postponed the trial after he was convinced that a cacophony of ailments stemming from a 2001 jailhouse attack that broke Kramer’s neck made it painful and difficult to breathe and sit through a trial.

But in 2011, Kramer was arrested for endangering a child after authorities learned that he was sharing a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy.

Earlier this year, makeup artist Krystal Phillips testified that she saw Kramer try to follow the teen into a changing room. She also said she saw Kramer walking up and down hills without using a wheelchair or a breathing apparatus, which he used in court before the trial was postponed.

Kramer was extradited back to Gwinnett County in January and remained in jail until Monday.

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