Two women have come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, accusing him of preying on them when they were under-age. In a lengthy interview with BuzzFeed, both Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice share stories with similar themes—they were both young, aspiring animators who reached out to Kricfalusi to potentially further their careers. They were allegedly met with predatory behavior.
Byrd claims that in 1994, when she was 13 years old, she began corresponding with the Nickelodeon animation star, via letters and AOL. When she was 16, he allegedly flew her to Los Angeles and sexually assaulted her near his studio. She says she subsequently moved in with him, first temporarily, then permanently when she was 17 after graduating from high school. During that time, Byrd also said that, unbeknownst to her, Kricfalusi took explicit photos of her, which he showed to people at parties.
Rice, similarly, claims that she began corresponding with Kricfalusi over AOL when she was about 14. She claims that he made sexually inappropriate remarks, and masturbated at least once while on the phone with her. When she was 18, she says he offered her an animation job, then began sexually harassing her when she started working for him. Per BuzzFeed, both women have old letters, e-mails, and transcripts of AOL conversations that support their claims. They also both have witnesses to parts of their stories, BuzzFeed reports.
An attorney for Kricfalusi sent BuzzFeed the following statement:
“The 1990s were a time of mental and emotional fragility for Mr. Kricfalusi, especially after losing Ren and Stimpy, his most prized creation. For a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend. Over the years John struggled with what were eventually diagnosed mental illnesses in 2008. To that point, for nearly three decades he had relied primarily on alcohol to self-medicate. Since that time he has worked feverishly on his mental health issues, and has been successful in stabilizing his life over the last decade. This achievement has allowed John the opportunity to grow and mature in ways hed never had a chance at before.”
The attorney also had this to say about Rices claims that Kricfalusi sexually harassed her when she worked for him: “Johns avid pursuit of her romantically was all after the company went out of business and he was no longer her employer.”
Rice also claims that she saw child pornography on Kricfalusis computer, which she reported to the police in 2017. Through his attorney, the Ren & Stimpy creator denied the allegations and said the police have never contacted him. “I assure you that there are significant differences between your outline and what actually happened and when,” he said.
Byrd told BuzzFeed that she spoke to a detective regarding the case, but Rice was eventually, allegedly, told by the Los Angeles Police Department that they would not be able to get a warrant. (The L.A.P.D. declined BuzzFeeds request for comment.) Rice decided to speak on the record about her allegations after receiving this news. “He ruined a good bit of my childhood and my early adulthood, gave me PTSD, and forced me to change careers, putting my life 10 years or more behind,” Byrd wrote in an e-mail to BuzzFeed.
“I became a better artist by working for him,” Rice said in an e-mail to BuzzFeed. “Im not grateful for it. I wish I hadnt. I wish I were a worse artist now and I didnt have all this bullshit to deal with.”
Ren & Stimpy, which debuted in 1991, is regarded as a classic Nickelodeon cartoon series, a progenitor of future offbeat cartoons like SpongeBob SquarePants and Adventure Time. Nickelodeon declined to comment on the allegations against Kricfalusi, or say what the network will do with the portrait of the artist that resides in the companys office. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim said that the networks were unaware of any sexual harassment claim against Kricfalusi, and did not have plans to work with him in the future. Paramount Network, which ran the Ren & Stimpy reboot Adult Party Cartoon, in 2003, said it had never gotten reports of sexual harassment against the famous animator.
This is the third blow to Nickelodeons legacy in the last few months. It was recently reported that Dan Schneider, a popular producer who spawned hits like The Amanda Show,Drake & Josh,iCarly, and more, had exited the network, amid rumors about alleged complaints of “abusive behavior” and “bloated budgets and long production days” on his shows. In addition, he has also “raised eyebrows,” Deadline reported, for posting photos of the feet of his young stars on social media. Upon his departure, Nickelodeon and Schneiders production company, Schneiders Bakery, released a joint statement: “Dan and his Schneiders Bakery team have created a string of lasting, groundbreaking hits over the years, including iCarly,Drake & Josh,Victorious,Kenan & Kel, and the current No. 1 hit show on Nickelodeon, Henry Danger. We thank Dan and his Schneiders Bakery producers, executives, and social-media team for their immeasurable contributions to Nickelodeon, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. And Dan and Schneiders Bakery are proud of the work they did together with Nickelodeon and will always remain big fans of the network.”
The network also fired The Loud House show-runner Chris Savino last October, after he was accused of sexual harassment by up to a dozen women. Savino released a statement shortly afterward, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed” of his actions.
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.