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Just ahead of Ed Kramer’s trial on 13-year-old child-molestation charges, DragonCon has announced a settlement that officially severs all ties with its litigious co-founder.
The board of the popular Atlanta sci-fi/fantasy convention revealed in July, amid a boycott effort, that it had offered to buy out Kramer’s shares in a merger — his attorney called it a “discriminatory squeeze-out” — in which a new company called Dragon Con Inc. absorbed the old DragonCon/Ace Inc. Kramer initially rejected the offer, which led the board to sue him in August; DragonCon spokesman Greg Euston told Atlanta magazine the out-of-court settlement calls for Kramer to be paid a “small amount over” what the company had offered.
Kramer, who helped found DragonCon a quarter-century ago, hasn’t been directly associated with the event since his arrest in August 2000 on charges of sexually abusing two teenage boys (a third later stepped forward). However, he continued to receive annual dividends from DragonCon — $154,000 for 2011 alone — after attempts to buy out Kramer’s stake in the for-profit corporation proved unsuccessful. He filed two lawsuits against co-founder Pat Henry and DragonCon/ACE, and rebuffed three previous offers to buy out his shares for $500,000, in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Now scheduled to begin Monday, Kramer’s trial has been repeatedly delayed since his 2003 indictment through legal maneuverings and claims of declining health, which at one point apparently required the attention of 16 physicians. He was first released on bond in November 2000, less than three months after his arrest, but he was back in jail within days when a neighbor reported seeing a teenage boy enter his home.
Following claims of a January 2001 assault by a deputy, Kramer was placed on house arrest, an order later modified to permit travel between Georgia and New Jersey or New York to receive medical treatments and visit his ailing mother. Under the conditions of the bond, he was to report his weekly location and not have any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16. However, in September 2011, he was arrested in Connecticut after he allegedly was found alone in a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy. He was extradited back to Georgia in January 2013 to face six counts of child molestation.
The media attention surrounding Kramer’s return to Gwinnett County spurred author Nancy A. Collins, who was among the first to speak out against Kramer, to organize a boycott against DragonCon, which she insisted hadn’t done enough extricate itself from him. Following the buyout announcement in July, Collins called off the boycott.