Dragon Con, the 26-year-old Atlanta-based sci-fi convention that draws over 50,000 geeks annually, has long operated under the shadow of its affiliation with its co-founder and alleged pedophile Ed Kramer. Now the taint to the con’s reputation has become so great that they’ve taken the drastic step of forming an entirely new company to escape the connection—and they bought out Kramer’s entire shareholdings to do it.
This afternoon, the con announced in a press release that the other five co-founders and board of directors had organized a buyout and merger of Kramer’s shareholdings. The new company, Dragon Con, Inc., was explicit about closing the loop to exclude Kramer from any official connection with the con:
Led by Pat Henry, David Cody and Robert Dennis, ownership of Dragon Con includes five of the six founding owners of Dragon Con / ACE (the old Dragon Con). The effective date of the merger is July 8, 2013.
Edward Kramer, who has not had any role in managing or organizing the convention since 2000, was offered cash for his shares in the old company. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Although it’s been thirteen years since Kramer had anything to do with the organization and running of Dragon Con, his position as co-founder meant that he has for years been legally entitled to 34 percent of the con’s profits. That income may have bankrolled Kramer’s convoluted attempts to evade trial for pedophilia over the past 13 years, during which time he allegedly put other children at risk.
That’s been a major problem for some former and potential con attendees. In January, noted horror and fantasy author Nancy Collins spearheaded a call for a Dragon Con boycott. Patton Oswalt and other entertainers joined in, while many past and future attendees cited the Kramer connection as the reason they weren’t comfortable giving their money to the convention.
Kramer, formerly a respected science fiction editor and program director of Atlanta’s drug council, was arrested on multiple charges of pedophilia in 2000, at which point he resigned from his longstanding position on Dragon Con’s Board of Directors.
Kramer then began a cat-and-mouse game of court date evasion, alleging illness, medical inability to stand trial, and other procedural delays which lasted over a decade and culminated in his being found by police in a motel with a 14-year-old boy in 2011. Currently he awaits trial in Gwinnett County, Ga., after being denied bond in April. Prosecutors have claimed he’s “manipulating the system.”
The reaction from fans and con attendees from around the Internet appeared to be one of jubilant praise for the con’s actions.
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out with joy, and were suddenly relieved,” quipped Facebook reader Jeff Wiley.
Kramer wasn’t above returning to the con as an attendee in recent years, despite the charges hanging over his head:
— Ray Radlein (@Radlein) July 8, 2013
Longstanding rumors about the con’s attempts to oust Kramer suggest that he had previously refused the board’s attempts to buy him out. Although no financial details of the merger were disclosed, the increased public pressure brought about by Collins’ boycott might have put the board into a “by any means necessary” mode.
Kramer has long been a polarizing figure within the sci-fi and fantasy communities, with many early supporters reportedly calling the case against Kramer a “witch hunt.” Collins, an outspoken opponent of Kramer’s connection to the convention since the early days of his investigation, has not yet commented publicly about the press release. However, last week she alleged on her Facebook that Dragon Con’s historic relationship with Kramer was “contradictory.”
It looks like the contradiction has finally been cleared up.
Photo via File770