According to allegations reported by BuzzFeed News, "Ren & Stimpy" creator John Kricfalusi preyed upon and groomed girls in their early teens.
Two former employees of Kricfalusi's told BuzzFeed that they made contact with the creator when they were young teens and chatted via AOL until they eventually went to work for him, at which point he repeatedly sexually harassed them. The claims of the alleged victims were corroborated by others who also worked at Kricfalusi’s animation studio, Spumco.
"One of the alleged victims, Robyn Byrd, says she first met Kricfalusi when she sent him a videotape of herself at 13, talking about her dreams of becoming an animator. He responded by offering to mentor the young teen, chatting with her through an AOL account he helped her set up. He then reportedly flew her to Los Angeles to become his live-in girlfriend, and hired her as an intern at Spumco," reports Vulture.
Byrd and Kricfalusi were apparently an "open secret" in the world of animation; reminiscent of the reports of Harvey Weinstein's antics being an "open secret" in Hollywood.
Katie Rice, another alleged victim who spoke to BuzzFeed, said Kricfalusi contacted her via AOL for apparent grooming and subsequent abuse.
"Rice, too, says she dealt with illicit advances from Kricfalusi at a young age," notes Vulture. "She was reportedly offered a job by Kricfalusi when she was 18, a job at which she says he repeatedly sexually harassed her. Rice eventually left the job, and she says that one of her breaking points was when she found child porn on Kricfalusi’s computer."
An attorney for Kricfalusi largely denied the accusations against his client, but admitted to Kricfalusi's relationship with a then-16-year-old Byrd. "For a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend," Kricfalusi's attorney said in a statement.
BuzzFeed's Ariane Lange describes the "open secret" of Kricfalusi's alleged interest in young teens:
Although sexual abuse allegations against Kricfalusi have never been made public before, his relationship with Byrd has been an open secret within animation — so open that “a girl he had been dating since she was fifteen years old” was referenced briefly in a book about the history of Ren & Stimpy. Tony Mora, an art director at Warner Bros., and Gabe Swarr, a producer at Warner Bros., worked alongside Byrd at Spumco. The male artists said stories of how Kricfalusi sexually harassed female artists, including teenage girls, were known through the industry. “It’s always been there,” Mora said.