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For most of the '90s, Kramer worked as a part-time consultant at the Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency, where he wrote grant applications and served as technical adviser. His former boss there suspects Kramer is the victim of a vicious smear campaign.
"There are a lot of people -- a couple in particular -- who are out there shooting their mouths off trying to hurt him," says Milt Levy, who adds he never heard any gossip about Kramer and was shocked to hear of his arrest.
In 1999, when she was in financial trouble, Collins accepted Kramer's offer to help land her a clerical job at the educational agency if she wanted to move to Atlanta. He also set Christ up with a minor job with Dragon*Con. The couple continued to associate with Kramer professionally and even borrowed money from him, but Collins says they were growing personally disenchanted with their friend.
When she discovered Kramer had been busted, Collins says, all the rumors and his own behavior suddenly came into focus. She walked away from her job and began devoting herself increasingly to investigating Kramer's past.
"Ed's a master manipulator," she says, "and we're gonna make him regret ever sliming his way into our lives."
No one knows who made the anonymous phone call to the Gwinnett Department of Family and Children Services in August 2000 that prompted the Kramer investigation.
The prevailing theory among his supporters is that the ex-husband of Kramer's girlfriend invented the accusation to gain custody of his sons by showing they had an unfit mother. But that doesn't explain why the woman, who had been seeing Kramer socially for three years, would back the charges against him after being told of the alleged abuse of her 13-year-old son.
On Aug. 25, Gwinnett police Investigator Curtis Clemmons phoned Kramer at home, told him of the accusation and asked him to come to the station for an interview. Kramer said he'd be right over.
A few minutes later, Clemmons received a frantic call from the boy's mother, who said Kramer had driven up to her house and was banging on the door, yelling, "Tommy! Tommy! Open the door! How could you do this to me?"
Trouble was, it wasn't 15-year-old Tommy (whose name we've changed) but his younger brother whom Kramer was accused at the time of molesting.
In November, he was indicted for allegedly molesting both boys during various sleepovers at his house in the week following Dragon*Con 2000.
Kramer's bust sent shock waves through fandom, and not just locally. Comics and gaming news sites, message boards and personal fan pages around the country picked up on the story. Most weren't hesitant about choosing sides and many in the community labeled Christ and Collins as mean-spirited slanderers; one site describes Collins' communications with prosecutors as "tattling."
She and Christ received death threats, she says, and any reference to the two has been purged from the archives of the Dragon*con website.
Pat Henry believes the alleged victims' accusations are part of a setup: "I've heard from the mother's lips that you can't trust a word those kids say."
Clemmons says the boys' mother had believed she and Kramer were a couple and that he was simply being paternal when he would take her sons, individually, on outings or have them stay overnight. His home was filled with enough video games, horror movies, action figures and spooky costumes to serve as a funhouse for any adolescent boy.
Clemmons, however, says the woman finally confided that she and her presumed boyfriend had never had sex. "She would approach Mr. Kramer about why there was no intimate contact throughout their relationship and she said he would get angry and change the subject and didn't want to talk about it," the officer said at an early bond hearing.
Only after Kramer had been charged did anyone discover that he'd also been arrested in 1997 for allegedly molesting another member of his underage posse. That boy had recanted his story before the case went to trial and charges were dropped. When Collins dug up the 3-year-old case, she made certain the media and the sci-fi community were updated.
At first, Judge Debra Turner labeled Kramer a threat to the community's youth and denied him bond. Two months later, she placed him under house arrest to receive specialized treatments for his various skin conditions -- under the condition that he have no contact with minors.
A week later, however, he was back in jail. A neighbor had reported seeing a teenage boy -- supposedly the same one who starred in Terror at Tate Manor -- enter his house. Kramer's attorneys contended the visitor actually was a woman.
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