Victims Speak Out After Canada's Anime Revolution Con Allows Serial Harasser, Convicted Sex Offender to Attend
posted on by ANN Interest Team
Vancouver BC's Anime Revolution convention is being openly criticized online and women are sharing their stories of harassment and sexual abuse following its Anirevo Summer 2019 event on August 9-11. Attendees became concerned after they noticed two separate adult men with prior convictions relating to criminal harassment and sexual interference were spotted in attendance. Concerns culminated in a call to Vancouver police to remove one of the men from the Vancouver Convention Centre. Alleged victims shared their stories online and in the case of Carla, Brittany, Alicia, Olivia, and Diane, in heartbreaking detail with Anime News Network.
Concerns regarding Bram Kleiman's attendance at Anirevo Summer 2019 began in July. Kleiman, according to Anime Revolution president Can Ngo, had attended previous Anime Revolution events for a number of years. Ngo stated attendees had brought concerns to staff that Kleiman was "pestering" girls and women for their phone number and hugs. After previous warnings, Ngo banned Kleiman from future Anime Revolution events.
However, Kleiman registered to attend Anirevo Summer 2019. Ngo said that a staff member e-mailed Kleiman in July instructing him not to come to the event due to his ban. On Thursday, Kleiman, who is 33-years-old, arrived with his mother to pick up his badge. Ngo was alerted and headed to meet with Kleiman and his mother. Ngo said that the three parties discussed the issue and that was when Ngo was given a copy of a letter from Kleiman's psychiatrist. According to Ngo, the letter stated that Kleiman was not a threat to public. His mother told Ngo that Kleiman would attend with a chaperone, his girlfriend. Given the information in the letter, the chaperone, and plans for security and staff to keep tabs on Kleiman, Ngo conceded that he could attend the event. Anime News Network was not able to independently verify the contents of the letter.
Ngo told Anime News Network that he was familiar with some of Kleiman's criminal history, including assault and injury of a police officer with a weapon, but was unaware at the time that he was pending trial for possession of child pornography. His trial date is scheduled for August 21. His previous record includes a charge of criminal harassment and multiple breaches of his probation in relation to his criminal harassment charge.
Ngo noted, as was written in Anime Revolution's public statements on the matter, that Kleiman has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and he said Kleiman referenced his diagnosis to Ngo as the reason behind his social difficulties. In an interview with Wired in 2012, Kleiman spoke about his diagnosis with Asperger's and that it is the cause of his argumentative behavior.
Other Anime Revolution attendees were alarmed when they noticed Kleiman at the event on Friday. Ngo stated that a third party contacted police who arrived at the convention center and began speaking with Kleiman. Ngo met with Kleiman and the responding officers and said he was informed by police that Kleiman was not violating his probation or parole by attending the event and it was up to Anime Revolution staff whether Kleiman could attend or not. It was at that time that Ngo asked Kleiman to leave due to what he described as the growing animosity towards Kleiman and suggested he not return for the duration of the event. Ngo did not confiscate Kleiman's badge.
Individuals on social media claim to have seen Kleiman in the convention and nearby on Saturday, however Ngo disputed those accounts and told Anime News Network that Kleiman was in the hospital that day following a mental health emergency. ANN could not independently verify this claim.
Kleiman's criminal harassment charge stems from violation of a no-contact order following a reported sexual assault in November 2014. The victim, Carla (not her real name), described in detail a horrifying account of assault, isolation, degradation, and harassment from Kleiman that began when she was 17 and attending high school in Central America.
Carla said she met Kleiman when was he was approximately 27 years old via the RaidCall group chat program. Carla and her friends played the League of Legends MMO and would sometime host karaoke sessions over the program as well as talk one-on-one on Skype. Carla said Kleiman first contacted her thinking she was one of the girls singing on the app and the two struck up a friendship. Her friends warned her that Kleiman was "creepy" but he came across to her as simply lonely. Eventually the relationship turned romantic.
"He made me feel special," Carla said. "Like I was the one for him." She also said he expressed to her that he didn't understand why he was continually excluded from anime, gaming, and kink communities as well as his own family. He told Carla he didn't have "a lot in this world" and she wanted to help him. Carla had not had a romantic relationship before but as it progressed, Carla said Kleiman's behavior began to change.
"People don't tell you they're going to become monsters. They're going to abuse, emotional manipulate, and gaslight you," Carla said. "I was like a frog in water not realizing the temperature was rising to the boiling point."
Carla said she and Kleiman had not met in person as he was living in Canada and she was still going to school in Central America. She said he began demanding more and more personal time from her until her routine was messaging Kleiman when she woke up, before class, and as soon as she was home from school and he'd become angry with her if she played online games with her friends without him. Eventually, she said he asked for her social media and e-mail passwords and Carla complied, but she knew it this wasn't what she wanted from a relationship. She tried to break things off with Kleiman in early 2014.This prompted what Carla described as a cycle of harassment. Carla stated that Kleiman began calling her home phone number at all hours until she relented and began communicating with him again. She learned that Kleiman had discreetly recorded their Skype conversations, including illicit images and videos. She said he then expressed interest in flying to see Carla at her home. Carla became scared that if she did not relent to his requests, he would share her photos with her strict parents. She also felt that in the event of a sexual assault, she would not be able to turn to her country's authorities for assistance.
“I wanted to be with someone special, I wanted [my first sexual experience] to be something that was positive. I kinda knew that I might have to give that up. So at the end of the visit I gave up...what I had left of myself.” Carla described putting on a "facade" for Kleiman with the hopes that she would be able to escape the relationship once she moved to Toronto for college in 2014. She began changing all of her passwords in order to lock Kleiman out of her accounts and cease contact with him.
But Carla said Kleiman found a way into her accounts once she entered Canada. She reported it to her local precinct but hit a dead end. Eventually, she said he showed up at her place of work at the local shopping center. Carla relented by giving Kleiman the address where she was living with her father. On Halloween, she said he showed up at her home. Carla's father, who met Kleiman in Central America prior, let him into the house. Carla said he came into her room and put his arms around her.
"I told him 'don't fucking touch me,' and I bit him before eventually going limp,” Carla said. She intended to call the police for sexual assault when he left, but said she noticed Kleiman outside her window during the night. When she did call the police and reported the assault, Carla said they didn't take her seriously. Carla said Kleiman returned to the house again and once again she called the police who, without her knowledge, allegedly escorted him to shelter downtown to stay the night. Carla met up with a friend from out of town and the two headed for an evening out. She said she later received a text from Kleiman that described how he watched her. Carla slept in her father's room that night, but decided she had to handle the situation herself.
Kleiman returned to Carla's home a third time and her father let him into the home. She locked herself in the bathroom and called the police for the third time. Carla said the arriving officers were not the same as her previous two calls and they urged her to make a statement regarding the previous sexual assault. Carla gave a video interview with police and for the first time since her harassment began over a year ago, Kleiman was arrested. While the sexual assault charge was pending trial, the court put in place a No Contact order and sent Kleiman back to British Columbia. The court would eventually drop the charge due to lack of evidence, the no contact order would remain, and Carla would move to Newfoundland for college.
Carla said Kleiman continued to have access to her online address book and would contact her new friends or pull phone numbers from her messages to call them and inquire about where she was and what she was doing. Carla reported the harassment to Newfoundland police as a violation of the no contact order in 2015. This led to a criminal harassment charge against Kleiman and headed to trial.
When speaking about the cross-examination process, Carla candidly stated, "I don't know what I get more PTSD from, the legal system or Bram." The defense would accuse Carla of leading Kleiman on, taking advantage of his feelings, and manipulating him with knowledge of his ASD. Carla said she began crying loudly during the trial and was dismissed from the stand.
Kleiman was found guilty of criminal harassment, but nothing changed.
"I knew he was going to breach [his probation] and nothing could stop him," Carla said. She believes he's contacted her approximately 200 times since the no contact order was put in place in 2014. Court records show Carla would sit through cross-examination again in 2018 for charges against Kleiman for breaking the terms of his probation. He was found guilty on three of six charges.
Carla briefly agreed to limited communication with Kleiman to answer 10 questions based on the events that took place only in the hopes it would bring him closure and he would move on. She's in the process of getting the permission rescinded.
Brittany (not her real name) was concerned when she heard Kleiman was at Anime Revolution given her own experience meeting him at a convention in 2012 when she was 14 years old and he was 25-year-old. Brittany stated she encountered him at a My Little Pony meet-up at the Anime Evolution (no relation to Anime Revolution) convention at University of British Columbia.
"I was unfortunately wearing a 'Free Hugs' t-shirt. That started it," Brittany said. She and a male friend, also 14 years old, were attending the con together when she said Kleiman approached her and asked for a hug. "I said yes, not thinking anything of it since I was a super sweet and happy kid. Gave him a hug and then turned back to my friend and the event that was happening."
Brittany said Kleiman would continue to follow her and her friends around throughout the rest of the event, continually asking her for hugs. "Every time I did he would hug harder and harder putting lots of pressure on my back so my chest was crushed against him," she said. "It got to the point where it really hurt." Brittany was uncomfortable, but it was during a LARP event with foam weapons that she first became scared.
"Bram was on the other team, the hosts said the rules and once the fighting began I went after my friend since we were super competitive with each other. Bram went after me extremely hardcore and was trying to hit me with all his might. He was extremely aggressive." Brittany said the organizers yelled for the event to stop and checked on her safety.
The second day of convention Brittany tried to actively avoid Kleiman and stated she never gave him any of her contact information or revealed her last name. She thinks a friend may have shared some of her info not knowing the situation.
"Once the con was over the online stalking began," Brittany said. According to her, Kleiman first found her on Skype, then Tumblr, League of Legends, and Facebook. Brittany wanted to give him a chance and tried to befriend Kleiman. She said they chatted consistently for about two months with comments ranging from questions about her school day to sexual topics. When the conversation would turn lurid, Brittany said she would ignore him.
"I only ignored his messages until he would pull a guilt card about how sad and lonely he was," she said. "Some things he constantly brought up was different types of BDSM. He would talk about rope play sometimes." Brittany said she didn't understand most of the sexual topics Kleiman brought up but the one that stuck with her the most was his requests for her to role play as his "master." She said he also continued to ask her for video calls. Brittany eventually agreed to an audio-only call but after an encounter where Brittany reported Kleiman scaring her so badly she began to cry, she began blocking him on social media.
"At this point was when he started finding my other game and social media accounts to try and talk to me. This was when the long time stalking really started," Brittany said.
Kleiman allegedly began sending Brittany lewd, anonymous messages to her Tumblr, followed by her ask.fm account. Brittany said Kleiman would sometimes identify himself in the questions and after a few weeks, she deleted her ask.fm account because she was "sick of him." She said Kleiman continued to send her messages, sometimes apologies, on social media for about a year. She said he'd approach her again in person, this time while she was working a booth for her job at Fan Expo.
"I was standing at my booth, it's one that you can walk through to look at stuff and he saw me from across the way and looked at me for a bit, obviously recognizing me. I was scared but didn't have any of my coworkers that could help me because they were helping customers. I was standing at my booth looking to the right and he came right up to me and he stood directly next to me. I could feel his body heat and he was what felt like inches away from my face. I'm 5 foot 9 yet it felt like he was towering over me. I was petrified," Brittany said. "I didn't look at him. I didn't move. My heart was beating at 100 miles a minute and I could hardly breath After about 45 seconds he leaned back, looked at me for a while longer, and shuffled away."
Alicia said she first met Kleiman around 2006 after meeting him online through a mutual friend while playing World of Warcraft. Alicia stated that to her knowledge, her friend was having a romantic relationship with Kleiman but things went south and the friend quit speaking with Kleiman and "virtually disappeared" from the internet. She said Kleiman began asking her for information to help locate her friend.
"After I'd told him several times that I didn't know and couldn't help, he would not relent. I blocked his character from contacting mine. But then he would create new characters just to bypass my blocking, to message me, despite my pleas to leave me alone. This went on a lot," Alicia said. "It the time we were all on AOL Instant Messenger, and a similar situation happened there, where Bram would IM me, I would block him, and he would create a new username to IM me. I believe I counted 12 aliases of his before I stopped counting." Alicia said the growing anxiety and anger from these situations affected her mental health.
Around this same time, Kleiman allegedly made a graphic post on a public World of Warcraft forum discussing his sexual preferences for pubescent girls. Alicia felt that she could not avoid Kleiman's attempt to contact her, was aware of his Asperger's diagnosis, and decided to attempt to counsel him on his behavior and sexual urges towards minors.
"We would speak for hours at a time, with no progress. Bram would lament that girls from his past always blocked him out of their lives after having romantic and sexual encounters with him. However, from his perspective, he'd 'helped' these girls at time when they were down by making them 'feel good' for a time," Alicia said.
In 2009, Alicia discovered that Kleiman had interacted online with her 13-year-old sister. Alicia posted a public statement on his Facebook page about it and proceeded to block him across her own online accounts.
According to Kleiman's interview with Wired in 2012, he would eventually have his account banned from World of Warcraft for harassment.
Kleiman's interest in underage girls is reflected across multiple communications with his victims and a primary concern of Anime Revolution attendees. Carla told ANN that Kleiman admitted to his interest in young girls and requested that she act out these fantasies during their relationship. Carla was of legal age of consent in Canada at the time, which is in most cases 16 years old. She spoke at length about a concern about being in a long-term relationship with Kleiman and her fear that if she conceived a female child with him, he would abuse her daughter.
In a letter Kleiman sent to Carla on April 13, 2019 he discussed his desire to donate his organs after death so they may be "consumed" by young, appreciative girls.
In the same letter, Kleiman told Carla that his computer was confiscated and it contained images and videos of "all the girls I swore to protect." The letter referred to Kleiman's computer as "legally stolen" by authorities and expressed disappointment in himself for not protecting the computer with his life. April 13, 2019 is the same day Kleiman was charged with assault of peace officer with a weapon and causing bodily harm to a peace officer.
His sexual interest in underage girls is referenced once in his self-published game Go Home to Nothing that Kleiman created solo in January 2019. The game was meant as an entry for Global Game Jam, but as Kleiman retells it within the game, he was not allowed within the event. The game's story is meta: Kleiman talks about making the game as part of its story while also attempting to combat his mental health issues. The game has a visual novel style with limited choices and in one section, he recounts the feedback he got from a test player named J.
J tells Kleiman that the sexual aspects of the game (two of the game's choices allow the player to select masturbation as an activity for Kleiman) aren't appropriate for children. Kleiman responds by noticing a young girl sitting at a table at the nearby and thinking about how he wishes she would play the game.
In another part of the game, Kleiman chooses to head to a Pokémon Tournament as a change of scenery. Kleiman had attended actual Pokémon Tournaments in British Columbia before, including the Pokémon Regional Championships that led to an incident in 2013 involving an underage girl. A former staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity told Anime News Network, "I don't know if Bram actively invited this, but he was sitting in a waiting area when I came across him holding a young girl about 6-8 years old in his lap."
According to the staffer, Kleiman did not know the girl and after the staffer located her family member at the event, they too did not know Kleiman.
"What was immediately disconcerting was that he had his arms draped around her in a loose hug, despite them effectively being strangers at the time," the former staffer said. They were unsure if charges were brought over the incident but believe the police non-emergency line was called.
Anime News Network reached out to tournament's event organizer but did not receive a response by press time.
The social media movement regarding Kleiman's attendance at Anime Revolution has spurred alleged victims to come forward and share their stories publicly. Event organizers including those in the kink and gaming communities confirmed with Anime News Network that they have blacklisted Kleiman. The creative director for the University of British Columbia's anime club also confirmed that Kleiman is banned from a building on campus and they are attempting to have him banned from the campus as a whole due to incidents that have taken place within the university's clubs.
A member of UBC's eSports Club told Anime News Network that she met Kleiman at a bar where an event ran by the club was hosted approximately two years ago. She said Kleiman followed her around the bar for the duration of the event, asking her for personal information and where she was going despite her attempts to separate herself from him and telling him she had a boyfriend.
"I took home a drunk friend of mine on the bus to UBC and he kept asking her the same personal questions even when a male friend stepped in," the club member said. "I asked around and another women said he found her Discord tag and got into a call with her and her friend and told her all the sexually explicit things he wanted to do to her. Even after she told him no. I asked the then president why she didn't ban him from events and she said she was threatened with a lawsuit by his mother."
Anime News Network contacted the former UBC eSports club president but did not receive a response by press time.
While concerns regarding Kleiman were growing, attendees also were concerned about another man, Alex McMullen, at the convention. Ngo stated that McMullen attended the event on Saturday but left due to posts regarding his attendance on social media. McMullen was listed on Anime Revolution's website as a "personal sponsor," a badge tier that lets attendees access priority badge pick-up and awards them a t-shirt, and mention on the convention's website. Ngo affirmed that McMullen did not sponsor the event in the traditional sense, he merely purchased the equivalent of a VIP ticket.
McMullen has a prior conviction sexual interference from 2012. "Sexual interference" is described under Canadian Law as "every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years."
At the time of the offense, McMullen was 21 and the victim was 15. The victim, Olivia (not her real name), told Anime News Network that she first met McMullen at J-Fest convention (since renamed Harumatsuri) in 2010 when she was 13.
"I used to go to every cosplay meetup I could feasibly attend (there was one almost every weekend) and he would also attend those events, so we saw each other frequently," Olivia said. " I didn't see our friendship any differently than my friendships with everyone else in that group."
Olivia said she began seeing McMullen less frequently when she entered high school. In late 2011, she said she met McMullen at his home in North Vancouver where they hung out in a communal area. They talked about cosplay and school but Olivia noted that McMullen was interested in more sexual topics. She stated he questioned her on her sexual experience with her boyfriend and allegedly told her she was "growing up nicely."
"At the time, these were things my close friends and I would sometimes talk about, so while Adult Me knows how disgusting this behavior was, 15-year-old Me couldn't discern anything sinister behind it. I just accepted the compliments and gossiped away," Olivia said.
Olivia stated that McMullen would invite her to hang out again a few months later, on February 25, 2012. He would later be convicted of committing sexual interference of Olivia on that date, according to his probation report. According to another woman, Diane (not her real name), McMullen began a legal sexual relationship with her when she was 17. Prior to beginning a romantic relationship, McMullen and Diane knew each other as students of the same high school. McMullen would visit the high school drama room post graduation and he met Diane there for the first time in 2011. Diane thought he was funny and added him on Facebook.
The following year Diane said they began to get to know each other better. Diane was 16 years old and McMullen was 21. McMullen has committed sexual interference of Olivia, but had not yet been convicted and this information was not public knowledge at the time. British Columbia does not release court records except to select involved parties when sexual crimes involve a minor. Anime News Network confirmed with a Justice of the Peace at Surrey Provincial Court that McMullen's charge and later conviction cannot be located using BC's court records search.
Diane said it was the summer of 2012 is when McMullen began asking her to hang out as his place. She sneaked over without informing her parents. The two entered a legal sexual and romantic relationship. According to Diane, her mother discovered the relationship in November 2012 but did not call the police under the presumption that Diane was in love with McMullen and the sexual relationship was legal. Diane wouldn't learn of McMullen's ongoing trial until January 2013. In communications shared with Anime News Network, McMullen told Diane that the victim, Olivia, lied about her age.
Diane said she learned from a friend in March 2013 that McMullen allegedly had sex with her the year prior when she was 14-years-old. Diane claimed she quit seeing McMullen that month and entered an exclusive relationship with someone else.
McMullen was convicted on March 14, 2013 according to a copy of his probation order obtained by Anime News Network. He served 14 days in jail intermittently; returning to prison on weekends to serve his time followed by two years of probation. The terms of his probation forbid him from contacting A except for incidental contact at three anime conventions taking place on June 28-30, 2013, April 20-21, 2013, and August 16-18, 2013 and any other anime events as permitted by his parole officer.
Conventions matching those dates in British Columbia include Anime Evolution 2013, FanExpo Vancouver 2013, and Anime Revolution 2013.
Anime News Network contacted both Kleiman and McMullen but did not receive a response by press time. ANN found no records of breach of probation or any other criminal complaints against McMullen after 2013.
Update 08/21/2019: The current president of the Simon Fraser University Anime Club confirmed with ANN that Kleiman was banned from the club in 2018, as well as all SFU campuses and subsequently their events.
"At these events, he targeted and harassed SFU students, especially females, and made them feel uncomfortable, despite not being a student at SFU," president Patrick Devota said. Devota described incidents that allegedly involved Kleiman making sexually explicit comments, uncomfortable physical contact, following a female club member into the bathroom, and asking "one of our club members if he could hang out exclusively with their little sister (who is a minor), intending to bring her to the local amusement park."
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history