A decade later, still no trial for Dragon Con founder

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Ed Kramer's infamous child molestation case turned a decade old last week, and the horizon is still bereft of the jury trial he claims to want.

On the eve of the 24th incarnation of Dragon Con, Atlanta's perennial sci-fi/fantasy convention that Kramer founded and is now billed as the world's largest, Gwinnett prosecutors were fielding another motion by Kramer's attorneys that could push a trial back further.

Time could be running out.

Kramer, in the words of one attorney, is an "anatomy lesson" in decrepitude, suffering from a laundry list of ailments that include a problematic back, weak lungs and narcolepsy. He gets around on a motorized scooter and relies on oxygen tanks.

As such, Kramer's defense has asked that a trial in Gwinnett Superior Court be catered to Kramer's needs. They ask that a jury trial proceed in only three-hour sessions with 90-minute breaks in between, among other concessions.

District Attorney Danny Porter called the motion another attempt by Kramer to have the long-delayed trial proceed on his terms.

Attorney Ed Marger, along with co-counsel and former Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, filed a motion this week asking that Kramer's chronic health issues be addressed. If not, Marger said that Kramer's indictment on multiple felony counts of child molestation should be dismissed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"He can't sit though a trial that's longer than that," Marger said. "In the event (the state) can't accommodate that, they should dismiss the case, because it's 10 years old."

Porter said the case remains in the same limbo it was in last year, when Kramer's defense made a motion to continue it. The next step will be to set up a hearing on the most recent motion and go from there, he said.

"I've never seen a situation like this -- I don't know what his needs are. I just know what his wants are," Porter said. "I suspect we're going to have to ask for an independent evaluation, including a physical, to determine what accommodations he needs."

Kramer, respected in some circles as a multi-genre author, anthologist and editor, has spent the last 10 years awaiting trail on charges he molested teenage boys.

Prosecutors say Kramer met the boys, ages 13 and 15, when he began dating their mother. They say he dazzled them with action figures, science fiction memorabilia and connections with celebrities and then took advantage of them during sleepovers.

In 2003, a third teen and family friend came forward alleging Kramer abused him between 1996 and 2000.

Kramer faces up to 60 years in prison.

Since his initial arrest in August 2000, Kramer's legal saga has been dotted with civil suits, appeals and slippery trial dates.

In 2002, Kramer filed a civil suit against the county for injuries he said he suffered at the Gwinnett County Jail. The court eventually ruled against him, when the injuries were traced back to a vehicle accident, Porter has said.

To this day, Kramer's supporters maintain the neck injury happened when he was roughed up by guards during an incident at the jail.

In 2008, a judge ruled that Kramer could be freed from house arrest provided he report his whereabouts to prosecutors.

Over the years, Kramer's defenders have argued his right to a speedy trial had been denied, but a local court ruled otherwise in February 2007. A motion to dismiss the charges was later rejected by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Dragon Con carries on

The convention Kramer founded in 1986 has flourished in his absence. Perhaps too much for his liking.

In February last year, Kramer filed suit against his Dragon Con successor, Robert Patrick Henry, now Dragon Con's president, accusing him of hiding financial information to trick Kramer into selling his majority stake in the convention. He also accused Henry of misspending company money on trips to Las Vegas and hiring unqualified family members.

A Fulton County Superior Court judge dismissed the suit in June. Kramer did score a victory, however, when a judge ordered that Henry must turn over documents related to the sale to Kramer, said McNeill Stokes, his attorney in the civil case.

The ruling to dismiss the case has been appealed, Stokes said.

Grassroots supporters of the convention and personal friends of Kramer have made outcries about his innocence.

In October 2007, a planned sit-in protest at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in support of Kramer never materialized. Friends and Dragon Con enthusiasts had pledged to descend on Gwinnett from as far as New York to raise awareness for his situation, but they later backed out because of permitting issues, leaders said.

As Dragon Con patrons try Saturday to break the world record for "the largest gathering of Star Trek costumes" at the Atlanta Sheraton, its founder will likely check in with his medical team, or tend to his ailing mother, Helen, who's been moved to a nursing home, sources close to him said.

"He's got a tremendous number of things wrong with him," said Marger, the attorney. "He just wants this over. He really wants a trial."