In 20/20 hindsight, I should have pulled out back in September. Yes, September. I considered it then, when I withdrew our application for Anime Midwest 2015, and had I at that time, *should* have been able to get most of our fees refunded. Here's most of an e-mail I sent to Ron and Xap to explain why:
This morning the questions got a whole lot . . . messier.
I followed a link to a link and ended up at nerdandtie.com which is a blog related to a podcast of similar name, by three guys, about Midwestern fandom - more of the comics, anime, etc. variety thereof. Two of the three were involved in founding DaishoCon and NoBrandCon.
I ended up at the site because of an article about the spectaularly-failed Tumblr Con changing its name and moving to Indianapolis next year, but I noticed an article about Ryan Kopf and his AnimeCon.org, which puts on Anime Midwest, Con-Alt-Delete, and others. Which led me to a couple more, mostly by Trae Dorn, aka Traegorn.
AnimeCon.org is Kopf's for-profit venture, which I think I'd mostly grokked. Trae Dorn has issues with a number of things related to how Kopf runs his anime cons:
* Underage/Minors as volunteers. Whatever, there's lots of places I don't see that's a problem. As badgers, yeah, that's probably not a great place to put a 14-year old.
* "Molly Blue", who I exchanged e-mail with about the Anime Midwest dealer's room is apparently a Kopf sockpuppet, and not the only one. WTF? Why? Just use an obvious alias like "dealers@" and get on with it. Stupid, but not a deal-killer. This would explain why communication sucks, if it's a largely one-man show.
* Chrono LLC, Kopf's Iowa-based corporation that runs animecons.org does not appear to be actually registered as an out-of-state corporation to run cons in Wisconsin or Illinois. Similar issues with a new corporation for a couple new cons, where Kopf's name is only on the domain registration.
* Using an address in Chicago that doesn't actually exist.
* Likes to perma-ban critics, and banned somebody for ghosting, when it isn't clear that said ghosting actually happened - bannee supplied a screenshot that essentially said "meeting friend at WhateverCon hotel, not buying a badge to con". Which could be ghosting, or just meeting friend completely outside function space.
* Ridiculous rhetoric: has said that getting banned from a con means that he can have you arrested for being at a con hotel at all. Teh Stoopid, it burns us, Precious.
My filthy merchant scum brain was ok with still dealing at his cons at this point, then things get worse:
* Kopf is anything from sleezy creep to rapist.
One commenter to Dorn's personal blog pretty much said Kopf was caught taking upskirt photos one year at Geek.Kon. Can't find anything else about that.
In 2013 a police report was filed in, IIRC, Davenport Iowa, naming Kopf as the perpetrator of sexual assault, with what sounds like a side-order of beating up the victim. She didn't want to submit a rape kit and decided not to press charges (surprise surprise). Several posters/commenters have gotten copies or called the police department in question and confirm that the report, which can be found on-line, is real. Other women and girls have also said he's assaulted and/or been pretty creepy with them.
Trae Dorn and Nerd and Tie presumably have critics, but I don't see anything particularly damming or that they've got a particular axe to grind against Kopf, other than "beware of creep".
We're registered for Con-Alt-Delete, money paid, yadda yadda. Put in the registration form for Anime Midwest, but haven't heard anything back, or paid any money. Cancellation policy is $75 fee if cancelling within 65 days. I did ticky a box on the Anime Midwest application agreeing to pay for space if I was accepted.
* Filthy merchant scum with conscience and/or ethics, thankyouverymuch. I can't get behind the "but a con is put on by lots of people" argument when it is a for-profit con with the problem being the CEO.
* Swallow hard and go to Con-Alt-Delete. Because we've paid and not sure I want to try to get money back and made the reservation not knowing, yadda yadda, yeah, filthy merchant scum is in the ascendancy there.
* Contact Anime Midwest and withdraw application.
The options listed at the end were what we did - swallowed hard and carried on with planning for Con-Alt-Delete, withdrew from Anime Midwest, and won't be doing any more of this guy's conventions.
Should I have said something before now? Fair question. See above re: rhetoric and being quick on dropping the ban-hammer. Yes, I did plan on making this post this week. Yes, timing was valuing CYA over the possible safety of readers. In large part because think most of the regular audience is/was likely to be safe from this guy anyway. Or maybe I wanted to prop up deciding on the path of less potential resistance.
It has been surprisingly hard to do the right thing here. I like making money. Despite being an introvert, selling at cons is weirdly fun. But sexual assault and rape are bad. Indescribably bad. Money can't fix it. I can't call myself a decent human being and put money in a skeevy creep's pocket. In a way, getting sick last week dealt with the issue - Kopf did get our money, but I didn't spend the weekend wondering if being there at all was doing the wrong thing.