Robot 6

Nancy Collins calls for end to DragonCon boycott

Dragon*Con

Dragon*Con

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.

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Comments

14 Comments

Simon DelMonte

July 9, 2013 at 7:12 am

The call for boycott surely did push the D*C board along. But when I posted about the boycott to my blog, not a single friend who attends the con – many of whom are liberal firebrands far beyond my meager skills – showed any interest in cancelling their plans. Dragon*Con has a life of its own that nothing short of Godzilla eating the hotels can slow down.

Assuming Ed Kramer is guilty (and it certainly looks like he is), he’s a reprehensible man and DragonCon is well shut of him. Not a single attendee who knew about the Kramer situation was happy about it; everyone wanted him gone. However, we were generally willing to take the DragonCon board at their word – that there was little they could do other than keep offering to buy him out, and hope he eventually accepted.

I’m thrilled that they finally managed to get rid of him, and if Collins’ threatened boycott played a part in it, that’s fine. But she and her supporters shouldn’t kid themselves; the boycott wouldn’t have made a dent in DragonCon attendance. I’ve been going for 10 years now, and I’ve watched the con go from big to huge to completely overwhelming. If the boycotters imagine that they were going to significantly impact DragonCon’s bottom line, they’re greatly overestimating the amount of influence they wield. At most they gave the con a little negative publicity (something no for-profit company wants) which managed to hurry the board down a path they were already headed. Collins can claim some small amount of credit here, but the lion’s share belongs to the board itself and the tens of thousands of fans who have been quietly urging them to get rid of Kramer for more than a decade.

At any rate, he’s gone now and everyone can go enjoy this year’s con with a clear conscience. The justice system can now deal with Kramer, determine his guilt or innocence, and decide upon an appropriate punishment.

Rahadyan Sastrowardoyo

July 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

The entire thing just affirms for me that many people care more about their institutional sandboxes, and their bread and circuses, far more than they do individuals. Sobering and maddening.

figured the moment the over due miracle happen and the founders of dragon con were finaly able to get rid of ed for good and make it so he can’ t ever use dragon con as a way to keep avoiding justice. nancy would claim victory and the boycott would be able to end and dragon con can continue with out the cloud that is ed kramer profiting hanging over any more. and next ed kramer winds up having a visit with lady justice and a future prison cell.

“Rahadyan Sastrowardoyo wrote:
July 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

The entire thing just affirms for me that many people care more about their institutional sandboxes, and their bread and circuses, far more than they do individuals. Sobering and maddening.”

Yep, that’s a sober truth about life…

and regardless of whether or not anyone else thinks she made a difference, Nancy Collins did get more professionals on board with her to oppose the presence and continuing financial involvement of Ed Kramer.

And yes, she and the other pros that were maligned by Dragon*Con officials deserve a big apology from them.

The situation with Kramer went on for far too long and it probably DID contribute to him avoiding justice.

There are a couple of fans who should be apologizing to Collins and other supporting pros as well from what I’ve seen on some boards but as you say it’s more important for these people to have their cosplay events and dealer rooms than to see justice done for the children molested by Kramer… That’s at least as disgusting as what Kramer actually did. Unfortunately, these individuals will never appreciate or acknowledge that fact. Talk about twisted priorities!

Could be Kramer saw that his continued association with DragonCon would drive it out of business, cutting off his money. If this was so, he might have figured he’d be better off to take a lump of cash now than risk having nothing in a few years.

D*C’s finally Kramer-free??

So now all those DRAGON*CON apologists who’ve vilified and mocked Collins (and Bisette and others) for their call of boycotting the event can rest easy— they now can CONTINUE attending D*C w/o that pesky
‘financially-supporting-an-accused-Child Molestor’ label being thrown on them…

Better late and doing this NOW in their view than 5…8…10… 13… 17 years ago when it could’ve “damaged” D*C and harshed the buzz of getting their yearly ATL yiff on.

Yay, fandom.

Or, you know, people who didn’t agree with the boycott suggestion just might have been uncomfortable with the whole pitchforks & torches/kangaroo court variety of mob trial.

Jonathan, if you had any substantial familiarity with the Kramer case, you might not be so quick to characterize those in support of the boycott as being part of a kangaroo court.

Kramer has faked numerous illnesses over the years in an effort to avoid justice. His house of cards only fell apart most recently when he was caught in Connecticut (despite claiming he was too ill to go to trial, he was good and healthy to travel to CT) grooming a new potential child victim.

I am an Atlanta native who has had his fill of Kramer’s delusional defenders over the years. Innocent until proven guilty can only apply if the accused does not conduct himself in a manner to avoid even going to trial.

Sympathy eludes me for DragonCon organizers who found a way to the Kramer solution seemingly only in the wake of a potential boycott.

Yeah I familiarised myself with the case back when Nancy was calling for the boycott (in February? I forget exactly when it was).

No matter how guilty he looks or how guilty he actually is, I just don’t agree with the righteous anger directed towards him and simply don’t share a sense of justified moral outrage. I do think a lot of the people calling for a boycott got carried away with judging Kramer and with wanting to punish him for something they had already decided he was guilty of, despite him not being convicted of anything yet. Innocent until proven guilty does not get suspended under ANY circumstances, avoidance of trial or not. Delaying a trial because of claimed illness is a facility available to any person facing a trial and proves absolutely nothing about the innocence or guilt of the person accused.

“He LOOKS guilty!” or “I have familiarity with this case and I’m fed up with how long it’s dragged on!” are not good enough reasons to take punitive action against a person or a group of people in my assessment.

Despite holding a dissenting and opposite opinion to the majority of people who have taken an interest in this issue, I respect Ms Collins for her hard work and determination, her efforts have resulted in the outcome she thought was best and that’s admirable.

Jonathan, I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Your spelling of “familiarised” tells me you may be an outside observer of the U.S. court system. Kramer’s ability to delay trial goes beyond the standard delays seen in most U.S. criminal court cases. I wish to see the trial proceed, Kramer does not. An innocent man seemingly would want to have his day in court. Not saying Kramer is guilty, I just find his delays and overall actions to send a message.

Fortunately, I think we find some common ground, however, in respecting Ms. Collins for her determination.

@Jonathan: I don’t see anybody suggesting Kramer doesn’t deserve a trial. In fact, the only person who DOESN’T seem to want Kramer to get a trial is Kramer.

Consumer boycotts are not mob justice, they’re another example of people exercising their constitutional rights.

Accused criminals have the right to a trial. But they don’t actually have the right to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their defense. People can choose not to give them their money.

(Put another way: yes, as you put it, “delaying a trial because of claimed illness is a facility available to any person facing a trial.” And now, with his six-figure-a-year income cut off, Kramer can see just how available that facility is to people who don’t have a six-figure-a-year income.)

(Put yet another way: Kramer doesn’t have a constitutional right to profit from Dragon*Con. He DOES have the right to an attorney — and if he can’t afford one, one will be appointed. That is the extent of the public’s obligation to spend money on Ed Kramer’s legal defense: the taxes that pay a public defender’s salary.)

I hope none of you are ever wrongly accused. I see assumption time and again of his guilt. All I know is I hung out with him from 14-24 regularly knew 100’s of people he helped and ever once did anything like that come up. He taught me how to code, bitched at me when I did drugs and acted like a big brother to me for many troubled years. I think he is wrongly accused (the accusers are his gf’s kids when he tried to leave her) compared to 100’s of abandoned kids over the years he helped. Logic dictates it would have happened previous to now. Could I be wrong about him? Yes, however again, the chances of it happening the one time the mother could profit from his arrest seems a bit contrived and considering how many people he has helped I have given him the benefit of the doubt. He was weird, the delays were not him, the paper would like you to think that the fist 6 years was “home arrest didn’t require speedy trial”. Dragon Con wouldn’t have happened without him. He made more authors and artists than anyone I knew, he was a music critic was given music by the pound, was tight with TSR and knew almost all the big geeky sci fi artists and authors. None of the other board members could have pulled that off, they were money and logistics. Anyway, before you slam him again just remember there is a whole section of Gwinnet from 87-96 that owes that guy a lot. Follow the money, and understand everyone has condemned him without him going to trial. If a prosecutor can convict, they do. The state pushed off the trial date for the first 5-6 years go look it up. Anyway, I stand up for people who helped me and he has quite a bit. If I thought it were even physically possible for him to have done this, much less morally then I would be more concerned. I really do think he is innocent.

Mark Rowe – One of dozens if not 100’s helped by Ed Kramer.

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