Monday, May 14, 2018

'Ren & Stimpy' Creator's Years of Harassment, Predatory Behavior Detailed in New Report [Update 5/14: John K. Issues Apology]

Update (5/14): John Kricfalusi has issued a lengthy statement on Facebook apologizing to two women whom he pursued when they were underage girls. More information about the update can be found below.

Two women are claiming in a new exposΓ© by Buzzfeed News that John Kricfalusi pursued them as teenagers, with one saying she became his live-in girlfriend at 16.


John Kricfalusi | Photo credits: Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

John Kricfalusi, the creator of Nickelodeon's '90s animated series The Ren & Stimpy Show, is being accused of workplace sexual harassment, statutory rape and possession of child pornography in a new story by Buzzfeed News.

In the report published Thursday, March 29, two women, Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice, allege that Kricfalusi, an influential animator who has also animated two sequences for The Simpsons and created art for Miley Cyrus' Bangerz tour, pursued them as teenagers. In Byrd's case, she became a live-in girlfriend at the age of 16; Rice alleged years of sexual harassment when she worked at Kricfalusi's Spumco animation studios in Los Angeles.

Byrd alleged that Kricfalusi struck up a mentor-mentee relationship with her after she, an aspiring cartoonist, sent him a letter at age 13. Later, Kricfalusi visited her at home in Arizona and flew her out twice to Los Angeles when she was 16 years old. On the second visit, Kricfalusi procured Byrd an internship at his studio and began living with her.

After Byrd graduated high school at age 17, she began living with him permanently until they temporarily separated in 2000 and permanently in 2002. The age of consent in California, then and now, is 18.

Rice, an artist, said that Kricfalusi began hitting on her and partook in self-pleasure while he was on the phone with her when she was a minor. At 18, when Rice was offered and accepted a job at Spumco, she said he sexually harassed her. Rice additionally alleged to having found child pornography on Kricfalusi's computer.

In emails, Kricfalusi demanded her professional loyalty. He also continued to pressure her for affection. Through a lawyer, Kricfalusi denied harassing Rice, saying, "John's avid pursuit of her romantically was all after the company went out of business and he was no longer her employer." But around the time of the new Ren & Stimpy show, which was produced by Spumco and employed Rice, he wrote her a letter expressing sadness over his breakup, and also told Rice she was pretty and that he wished he could cuddle with her.

When reached by The Hollywood Reporter, Nickelodeon had no comment. Kricfalusi was fired by the network in 1992, before the alleged relationships with minors occurred. The morning after the story was published, Krickfalusi’s portrait was removed from the Nickelodeon Animation Studio.

In response to the Buzzfeed story, Paramount Network, the channel that was formerly Spike TV, which ran Adult Party Cartoon, a 2003 reboot of Ren & Stimpy, said that it did not receive any complaints against Kricfalusi at the time. A spokesperson for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim said the same.

On Kricfalusi’s behalf, an attorney responded to a detailed list of allegations in BuzzFeed News' story with 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 he’d never had a chance at before.”

Kricfalusi’s attorney also denied that his client exposed himself or that he was ever in possession of child porn as was also alleged by one of the women.

THR has reached out to Kricfalusi's representatives for comment.

Also, from People TV Watch:

Ren & Stimpy Creator John Kricfalusi Accused of Sexual Misconduct Toward Underage Teens

The creator of the popular Nickelodeon children’s show The Ren & Stimpy Show has been accused by two women of making sexual advances toward them when they were underage.

The accusations against John Kricfalusi, 62, are set out in detail in a new report by BuzzFeed News.

One of the women, Robin Byrd, told the outlet she was 13 when she sent the cartoonist a video about her ambition to create cartoons like him. They then, she says, started up a friendship which turned sexual three years later.

She alleges that when she was 16, he flew her to Los Angeles and, while staying at his home, touched her genitals through her pajamas. The incidents allegedly continued and culminated when Kricfalusi flew her to Los Angeles for an internship at his studio, Spumco, and she started living with him as his girlfriend and intern, BuzzFeed reports.

Kricfalusi’s attorney responded to the allegations by telling BuzzFeed News that the animator was mentally and emotionally fragile during the 1990s, when the women allege the incidents took place, “especially after losing Ren and Stimpy, his most prized creation.”

Kricfalusi’s attorney denied that his client exposed himself or that he was ever in possession of child porn as was also alleged by one of the women.

“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,” his attorney told the outlet. “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 he’d never had a chance at before.”

Byrd alleged she moved in with him at 17 after she graduated from high school in Arizona.

“He ruined a good bit of my childhood and my early adulthood,” Byrd told BuzzFeed in an email. “[He] gave me PTSD, and forced me to change careers, putting my life 10 years or more behind.”

“He is an abuser in the way that he will pull you into a relationship with him and then tell you who to be and what he wants from you,” she added.

Katie Rice, an artist, alleges she was 14 when Kricfalusi took an interest in her. They began speaking to each other on AOL, where the conversations between them made her feel special, she told BuzzFeed News.

When she was 15 Kricfalusi allegedly sent her messages such as, “I’m crazy about you, Katie,” and “Do I ever make you tingle?”

While they never had sexual contact, Rice claims Kricfalusi once [self-pleasured] while they were speaking on the phone.

The sexual harassment mounted, she claims, when she began working for him in 2000 when she was 18. In one instance, Rice alleges, she was working at Kricfalusi’s home studio when he appeared walking around his living room “with his weiner hanging out of his pants.”

Rice claims she once found photographs of naked girls, one of whom appeared to be around 10 years of age, on his computer. She told BuzzFeed News she attempted to report the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children three times.

Kricfalusi’s attorney expressly denied his client was ever in possession of child pornography.

“I became a better artist by working for him,” she said. “I’m not grateful for it. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I were a worse artist now and I didn’t have all this bulls—to deal with.”

--Ends--

Update (5/14): From Variety:

‘Ren & Stimpy’ Creator Slammed for ‘Apology’ to Underage Girls

John Kricfalusi, the creator of “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” has penned a lengthy statement on Facebook apologizing to two women whom he pursued sexually when they were underage girls and attributing his behavior to undiagnosed bipolar disorder and poor impulse control.

Kricfalusi, 62, was the subject of a BuzzFeed expose in March, in which the two women told how he had flattered them and pursued them while they were still in high school. Kricfalusi, better known as John K., had a sexual relationship with one of the women, Robyn Byrd, beginning when she was 16 and he was 41. The other, Katie Rice, said that Kricfalusi masturbated while on the phone with her when she was in 10th grade and sexually harassed her for years afterward.

On Facebook, Kricfalusi said he drafted his response around the time the article was first published, but was advised not to post it. He said he had since revised it and offered it up as “my sincere feelings.”

In the 11-page note, he apologized to the women for causing “pain” in their lives, while also praising their talents and sharing fond reminiscences of the “good times” with them. He also apologized to fans, and sought to explain his conduct as the result of attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder.

“I’m left with a feeling of shame for my lack of control and past behavior so I apologize to everyone who expected more from me,” he wrote. “Extreme people can have extreme flaws. I didn’t ask for mine but for years now have finally been able to control them.”

Byrd responded to the post, rejecting his remarks as insufficient.

“We don’t accept this non-apology, neither do any of the other girls he doesn’t bother to mention, and it’s a big pile of manipulative crap. There you go,” she wrote.

Others called out Kricfalusi’s statement as “creepy” and faulted him for blaming his misconduct on mental illness.

“I myself read this and it comes over like you are trying to talk to a child and groom them back to happy times, to forget the bad times,” wrote Adele K. Thomas. “No. That isn’t how you help people heal. You need to accept responsibility and give a simple apology. And one which doesn’t use self excuses.”

In the statement, Kricfalusi also described himself as “one of the few producers left who’s willing to break creative boundaries.”

Nickelodeon fired Kricfalusi from “The Ren & Stimpy Show” in 1992. He has continued to have a devoted following in the animation world in the decades since.

--Ends--

Also, from the NY Daily News:

‘Ren & Stimpy’ creator John Kricfalusi apologizes to women who accused him of sexual misconduct

John Kricfalusi, the creator of "The Ren & Stimpy Show," offered a semblance of an apology to two women who accused him of grooming them for sexual relationships when they were 13 and 15, respectively.

"The last thing I want to do is aggravate bad feelings that already exist. These feelings are obviously real and strong and I understand them much better now," he wrote on Facebook.

"It's not pretty to have to stare myself in the face and see myself the way those who I've hurt see me. I imagine many other men are waking up and feeling the shame I've felt for years. I welcome a social change in our attitudes towards women and how we should treat them with respect and equality."

Near the end of the 11-page letter, Kricfalusi said that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD in the late 2000s, "a combination that makes it almost impossible to control your impulses and obsessions."

"I'm left with a feeling of shame for my lack of control and past behavior so I apologize to everyone who expected more from me," he wrote. "Extreme people can have extreme flaws. I didn't ask for mine but for years now have finally been able to control them."

In late March, Robyn Byrd told Buzzfeed News that she began corresponding with Kricfalusi in 1994, when she was 13 and he was 39. Three years later, she claims he groped her when she visited him in Los Angeles. A year later, she moved in with him.

"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," she told Buzzfeed.

"He is an abuser in the way that he will pull you into a relationship with him and then tell you who to be and what he wants from you. … Everybody needs to know about it."

In the comments on his Facebook post, Byrd refused to accept Kricfalusi's appology.

"I don't find any apology strong or heartfelt enough for taking away a person's adolescent motivation, her hopes to be an artist, and her sexual agency," she wrote.

"We don't accept this non-apology, neither do any of the other girls he doesn't bother to mention, and it's a big pile of manipulative c--p. There you go."

Katie Rice, who now goes by Katie Wallander, also told Buzzfeed that Kricfalusi sent her "flirty letters" and masturbated while the two were on the phone together when she was still a minor, even attending her 15th birthday party.

She also claimed that she found child porn on his computer, including the photo of a naked 10-year-old girl, and reported it to the LAPD in 2017, but no warrant was ever issued.

On Facebook, she suggested that she could " share some more of the stuff I've got from back then."

"The Ren & Stimpy Show" ran on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1995, reaching five seasons and 52 episodes. Kricfalusi left the network in 1992, two years before his alleged relationship with Byrd began. The "adults-only" sequel, "Adult Party Cartoon," aired just three episodes on what's now the Paramount Network in 2003.

--Ends--

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