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‘Rick and Morty’ Creator Justin Roiland Accused of Grooming as Domestic Violence Charges Surface

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 24: Producer Justin Roiland speaks onstage during the Adult Swim: Rick and Morty panel at the Turner Broadcasting portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

It’s such a predictable, disappointing cycle. It seems that every few weeks we hear about a beloved (or once beloved) creator being accused of sexual misconduct or being charged with a serious felony. Not to sound jaded or anything, but it’s almost like a rite of passage these days for liking anyone with even a slight amount of fame attached to their name.

In this case, I’m talking about Justin Roiland, the creator of (and most prominent voice actor in) Rick and Morty. As per the court (and a fantastic legal explainer from our own Lisa Dunn), in 2020 Roiland was charged with “one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit.” In other words, during January 2020, Roiland allegedly struck an ex-girlfriend with such severity that she needed medical care, and then he prevented her from leaving their shared home.

Many of the details remain murky, making it difficult to explicitly comment on the incident(s). As it stands, the victim acquired a restraining order against Roiland in October 2020. We’re only hearing about all of this now because the trial kept getting pushed back, but Roiland finally attended a pre-trial hearing this week.

Additional allegations surface

All of the above is awful and hellish enough, especially considering how long it typically takes for victims to see their abusers held accountable. In light of the domestic abuse charges, multiple people have come forward, this time with allegations of grooming. If you’re sensitive to this kind of content, I’d advise skipping these tweets, as some are relatively graphic:

In the replies to these tweets, even more people shared similar stories involving Roiland. Apparently, he has a reputation not just for busting unions, but also for having a predilection for younger women. Goddamn. First the Ren & Stimpy guy, now this. What is it about animation that it can simultaneously produce the coolest people and the slimiest?

We’ve acquired a healthy amount of skepticism regarding social media posts over the past decade, but I do want to remind readers that it can take victims of assault and predation a long time before they feel comfortable sharing (or reporting) their experiences. Often, they don’t tell anyone right away—either because they don’t know how to define what happened, or because they feel that nobody will believe or support them in a way that will be helpful (a feeling unfortunately validated by the many highly visible instances in which this continues to happen).

So when court records like these are made public, Twitter can become a very convenient avenue for a victim or survivor to finally share what they’ve been through:

All I know is, that first text exchange was enough to make my recent stomach bug come back in full swing. Hurk.

What might happen now?

Ultimately, it’s so hard to predict how court cases like these will pan out, especially since we don’t have a lot of public evidence to work with. I’d like to think that things will end in a way that brings some peace to the defendant, but domestic abuse court hearings have a notoriously poor track record. All the same, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, you’re probably wondering: What about Rick and Morty? Good question. This is a weird one. I have no major predictions here. On the one hand, white men doing heinous shit hasn’t stopped other productions from continuing. On the other hand, animation is a different ballpark, and Dan Harmon is also involved as a showrunner. While Harmon himself has been guilty of some pretty wild and weird stuff in the past, he’s also proven to be pretty outspoken on issues he cares about, as well as capable of apologizing sincerely for his misgivings. I have a hard time seeing him stick up for Roiland here. But again, anything can happen. There’s a good chance the show will keep running, with or without Roiland, because even animation is part of the boys’ club of television.

Ultimately, I’m just tired of this sort of thing happening. It’s exhausting. Stay safe out there, everyone.

(featured image: Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at https://madelinecwrites.com/