Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi has been accused of using his power to abuse young women. In an exposé published by Buzzfeed News, reporter Ariane Lange details Kricfalusi's relationships with two women — aspiring animators and cartoonists — who were underage. One, Robyn Byrd, was just 13 when she first started corresponding with Kricfalusi. Buzzfeed reports that Byrd sent Kricfalusi, who was 39 at the time, a video of herself explaining her interest in animation. They struck up a correspondence, and began officially "dating" when Byrd was 16. This relationship, according to Buzzfeed, was widely-known throughout the animation world.
In a statement to Buzzfeed News, an attorney for Kricfalusi confirmed that the relationship between Byrd and Kricfalusi took place.
"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," the statement reads. "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."
The other woman, Katie Rice, was a minor when she struck up a similar correspondence with Kricfalusi. They never engaged in a physical relationship, but Kricfalusi allegedly sexually harassed her from a distance and would masturbate to Rice over the phone. Rice also accuses Kricfalusi of sexually harassing her once she started working for him in 2000. During her time working for him, Rice allegedly found child pornography on Kricfalusi's computer. In 2017, she reported Kricfalusi to the police. She still works in animation, although Byrd told Buzzfeed that she left the industry because of Kricfalusi.
Though Ren & Stimpy endures because it's seen as a legendary cartoon, Kricfalusi, 62, does not currently have a show on the air. Most recently, he partnered with Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge on a series of promos for UFC.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).