Ed Kramer and Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. FILE PHOTOS

Attorney disputes child porn charge based on artist’s photograph

The defense attorney for DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer is seeking to have Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter thrown off of cases involving his client.

The motion filed last week in Gwinnett Superior Court by attorney Stephen Reba accuses Porter of prosecutorial misconduct — in part because a recent child porn charge filed against Kramer was based on his possession of a photograph from a well-known, albeit controversial, artist.

Reba’s filing accuses Porter of misleading a grand jury about the nature of the photo in order to secure an indictment and prevent Kramer from possibly getting bond in another case.

Porter had previously recused himself from the prosecution of that separate-but-intertwined case, which involves Kramer allegedly being given illicit access to the Gwinnett County computer network at the request of a sitting superior court judge who feared that Porter may have been trying to hack into her computer.

The photo in question is titled “Popsicle Drips, 1985” and comes from a provocative 1992 collection published in the book “Immediate Family”by photographer Sally Mann. It depicts the genitalia of Mann’s young son.

“The claim that the image qualifies as child pornography … cannot be supported under any legal interpretation,” Reba wrote in his motion.

Porter has not yet filed a formal response. But he denied any abuse of power and defended the most recent charge against Kramer, a registered sex offender and longtime legal nemesis who Porter first charged with child molestation in 2000.

Porter said to qualify as child pornography a photograph “has to be of a naked child, a lewd display of a naked child.” He said the fact that Mann’s photo is a published work of art was “not part of the analysis” in bringing charges.

The question of whether the photograph constitutes child porn is ultimately one for a jury, Porter said.

Mann’s photography — a collection of which will be on display at the High Museum in Atlanta starting this weekend — includes hundreds, if not thousands, of images.

“Kramer selected the ones of naked children and put them in his own file,” Porter said.

A complicated history

Kramer and Porter have a complicated history that dates back to 2000, when Kramer was charged with child molestation for allegedly assaulting three young boys. That case languished in a maze of legal wrangling until 2013, when Kramer took a plea deal and was sentenced to house arrest and probation.

Kramer, who helped start popular Atlanta sci-fi convention DragonCon but has not been directly involved for years, avoided further legal trouble until February, when he was arrested after allegedly taking a photo of a young child at a Lawrenceville doctor’s office. That arrest begat yet another investigation after authorities searching Kramer’s home computer found a folder labeled with the name of Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader.

Further investigation found that Schrader had hired private investigator TJ Ward to look into her suspicion that someone was trying to hack into her work computer.

Schrader reportedly feared that Porter was the would-be hacker, though it remains unclear why. Porter has vehemently denied the accusation.

After Ward was hired, he tasked a man named Frank Karic with installing WireShark monitoring software on Schrader’s computer. Kramer, who has worked as a computer forensic analyst, was then hired to keep tabs on the activity.

In September, Schrader, Ward, Karic and Kramer were indicted on three counts apiece of computer trespass.

As part of the ongoing investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has spent months pouring through terabytes of data on Kramer’s home computer. It was during that analysis that the “Popsicle Drips” photo was discovered.

Porter said at least four other potentially pornographic photos are being analyzed and more charges could be forthcoming.

In the meantime, Reba wants the district attorney removed from handling any of Kramer’s cases. And he said Schrader’s original fear that Porter was trying to access her computer should be investigated by an independent party.

“This malfeasance — the actions of a prosecutor who understands no bounds to his power (or, as already accused, to a Judge’s computer network) — cannot stand,” Reba wrote.

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