In this April 2013 file photo, Ed Kramer departs the courtroom during a bond hearing with Judge Karen Beyers at Gwinnett County Superior Court.
Gwinnett DA speaks on Kramer plea deal
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter speaks about the plea deal in the Ed Kramer child molestation case.
LAWRENCEVILLE — After 13 years, Ed Kramer was finally due for his day in court. Instead, he entered a plea — and won’t spend another day in jail.
On the day jury selection was scheduled to begin in his long-awaited Gwinnett County child molestation case, the co-founder of popular sci-fi convention Dragon Con opted not to face a jury. Kramer entered guilty pleas Monday to three of six counts of child molestation on the original indictment — one for each alleged victim — with the state offering not to prosecute the other three.
Under the nine-condition agreement, District Attorney Danny Porter recommended concurrent sentences of 20 years to serve five for each count. Because of 26 months previously served in the Gwinnett County jail and while incarcerated in Connecticut, Kramer will actually serve 34 months.
That time will be under house arrest and not in prison, due chiefly to a litany of medical conditions Kramer reportedly suffers from.
“I think the fact that we resolved it the way we did is a good resolution,” Porter said. “We saved the county and the state tremendous expenditures, because that’s what he is … We have set it up so that any mistake puts him in the penitentiary and we’ve gotten restitution to the victims, so overall it was a good resolution.
“And the fact that since it’s a plea he can’t appeal,” he added. “He’s done.”
Kramer was originally arrested on Aug. 25, 2000, after two half-brothers, ages 13 and 15, came forward claiming he had touched them inappropriately and performed oral sex on them. Kramer reportedly met their mother through a singles line “but really spent more time with the boys.”
A third victim — the first, chronologically — joined the case in 2003. He met Kramer through comic book stores and the game Dungeons & Dragons.
All three, now grown men in their mid- to late-20s, were in the courtroom Monday and approved the deal before it was officially offered. As part of the agreement, they will each receive $100,000 restitution.
“It’s been more difficult than even I realized dealing with things,” one victim said before Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers accepted the plea. “It doesn’t affect me on a day-to-day basis, but it is paralyzing when it does set in … I just wanted to let the court and Ed know that even now, 28 years old, it’s still something I fight with.”
Added another: “I really don’t know what to say up here … I’m glad Mr. Porter and his office, they never stopped trying. No matter what Mr. Kramer tried to pull they kept going, and it’s amazing to finally have some type of closure.”
Proceedings were initially delayed Monday after Kramer, 52, reportedly forgot medical equipment at the Gwinnett County jail. It’s believed he then wanted a nurse to be with him in the courtroom at all times, pushing back a start time even further before the plea agreement was reached.
Donning a black suit, tie and yamulke, a heavily bearded Kramer was finally rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair just before noon, reclined at about a 30-degree angle and equipped with an oxygen tank.
It all fit the case’s 13-year history perfectly.
After his original arrest, Kramer put off a trial via dozens of motions, medical complaints and a constantly changing team of defense attorneys. He was released from house arrest in 2009 and permitted to check in via phone. Not much changed in the case until 2011, when he was allegedly seen in a Milford, Conn., hotel room with an unsupervised 14-year-old boy.
He fought his extradition to Georgia for more than a year, taking it all the way to the Connecticut Supreme Court, before being booked back into the Gwinnett County jail in January.
Porter estimated that Kramer’s 11 months in the local jail cost taxpayers somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000. That was a large factor in Monday’s deal, along with wanting to “spare the victims testimony.”
Upon conviction, each of the charges against Kramer would have carried a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence. The two aggravated counts had the potential for life sentences.
Kramer technically entered an Alford plea, which allows defendants to plead guilty without actually admitting guilt.
“He maintains his innocence on all charges,” defense attorney McNeill Stokes said.
Under Monday’s agreement, Kramer will be a sex offender for life and forbidden to interact directly or indirectly with any person under the age of 16. He will not be able to have any occupation — such as photography, videography or movie-making, all of which he previously engaged in — that would put him into contact with people under the age of 16.
Kramer will be under house arrest complete with real-time GPS monitoring and forbidden to leave his residence without the approval of the county. Following that 34-month sentence, he will be on probation, which Porter said he would “ensure is pretty intensive.”
Having no control over Dragon Con since 2000 and being bought out of his financial stake earlier this year, Kramer was released from the Gwinnett County jail at about 8:30 p.m. Monday. Prior to that, Porter said he wasn’t sure yet where Kramer would go, but he still owns a home on Honeycomb Way in Duluth.
Porter hasn’t been shy about his skepticism of Kramer’s health, calling his alleged ailments, which range from neck pain to emphysema and psoriatic arthritis, “incarceration induced.” He said Monday he expected “a miraculous recovery” and called Kramer “still a threat.”
“It would not surprise me if we were back in court in 90 or 120 days on a probation revocation,” Porter said. “And then he’s looking at 60 years in the penitentiary.”