Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland has been accused of sexual assault and direct messaging underage girls in a new report that comes six months after domestic violence charges against Roiland were dismissed.
Even though the Orange County District Attorney’s office dropped the case due to insignificant evidence, the charges themselves inspired nearly a dozen women and nonbinary people who encountered Roiland online and in real life to come forward to NBC News with what they say are “traumatic” experiences.
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In nearly every case, Roiland and the women allegedly connected over dating apps or social media sites, with jokey banter eventually turning sexual in nature.
Three of the women and nonbinary people interviewed by NBC News claimed that they first started talking online to Roiland — then in his mid-thirties — when they were underage; Roiland would allegedly refer to these girls as “jailbait,” and would often reopen the lines of communication when the girls reached legal age, at which point they say the conversations would turn sexual.
The most damning allegation in the NBC News report was made by a then-20-year-old Boston woman who matched with Roiland for a Tinder date in 2019. After an evening of drinks and shopping, Roiland and the woman went back to his hotel, where she says he asked her to perform oral sex on him; she declined. However, she claims Roiland continued to ask and allegedly pushed her head to his crotch. Eventually, she stopped resisting.
“From the moment it happened, I knew that it was not OK,” the woman told NBC News. “But I felt a lot of different feelings, like that it was my fault. I felt guilty for asking him to buy me stuff. I felt maybe I owed it to him. And I was embarrassed.” Following the incident, in text messages shared to NBC News, the woman told Roiland, “The sexual stuff that happened with us was not handled by you in the best way and i just want you to take that into account in future dates” and that “verbal consent is important.” Roiland apologized, “I’m really sorry! Fuck.”
Another incident occurred in 2017 when the 36-year-old Roiland invited a then-19-year-old Pennsylvania woman to fly to Los Angeles and attend a Rick and Morty premiere party he was throwing. After the party ended, the 19-year-old claimed she and Roiland remained at the party along with an unnamed female friend of Roiland’s; by Roiland’s request, she says, the two women began engaging in sexual acts together in a hot tub, followed by Roiland allegedly having sex with the 19-year-old in front of the female friend, even though the 19-year-old said she was “uncomfortable” with group sex.
Soon after, the 19-year-old woman says she went to Roiland’s guest room and phoned a friend, sobbing and saying she was “not a lesbian.” Later that night, she says Roiland attempted to smooth the situation by texting the Pennsylvania woman, but in addition to writing things like “I wish you were here” and “I want you to sleep with me tonight,” Roiland also sent, per NBC News, “a pornographic image of a man with several penises in his mouth to several of the messages. He sent the image 14 times in total.”
Roiland’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, called the allegations “false and defamatory” in a letter to NBC News. While Brettler did not comment specifically on the Boston woman’s claims of forced oral sex, he said that Roiland and the 19-year-old Pennsylvania woman agreed to consensual sex “hours prior to the alleged hot tub incident.”
In January 2023, authorities arrested Roiland and charged him with one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, and/or deceit following the incident. The charges related to an incident in Jan. 2020 in which he allegedly hurt a woman he was seeing at the time. She chose to remain anonymous, going as Jane Doe. He pleaded not guilty.
That same month, Adult Swim announced it had “ended its association with Justin Roiland,” adding that “Rick and Morty will continue.” Hulu, which had just premiered a new show by Roiland called Koala Man, also said it would no longer work with him, though the shows he’d worked on for them would continue.
When the charges were dismissed in March 2023, Roiland posted on social media, “I have always known that these claims were false — and I never had any doubt that this day would come. I’m thankful that this case has been dismissed but, at the same time, I’m still deeply shaken by the horrible lies that were reported about me during this process. Most of all, I’m disappointed that so many people were so quick to judge without knowing the facts, based solely on the word of an embittered ex trying to bypass due process and have me ‘canceled.’ That it may have succeeded, even partially, is shameful.”
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