Rick and Morty star Justin Roiland has been charged with felony domestic violence against his ex-partner.
The 42-year-old, who co-created the animated series and voiced two lead characters, appeared in an Orange County, California, courtroom for a pre-trial hearing.
A criminal complaint filed by prosecutors in May 2020, seen by NBC News, accused Roiland of causing bodily harm and false imprisonment through threats, fraud, violence or deceiving the woman he was living with at the time.
The woman was not identified in court documents. Roiland pleaded not guilty.
The incident happened in January 2020, and Roiland was charged in May of that year, but the media apparently didn’t notice the allegations until they were reported by NBC News.
Roiland was arrested in August 2020 and released on $50,000 (£41,000) bond before returning to court in October 2020, according to more documents seen by NBC News.
A protective order, which went into effect in October 2020 and runs through October 2023, says he must not harass, threaten or monitor the person named in the protective order and must not come within 100 feet of that person. He was also ordered to turn in any firearms he owned or possessed.
Roiland will return to court in April. A trial date has not yet been set.
About a dozen court hearings have been held so far, including pre-trial hearings.
Roiland’s attorney, Edward Welbourn, called recent media coverage of the case “inaccurate” in a statement: “To be clear, not only is Justin innocent, but we fully expect that once the District Attorney’s Office will dismiss the case, The matter has completed a systematic review of the evidence. We look forward to clearing Justin and helping him move forward as quickly as possible.”
Cartoon Network, which airs Rick and Morty in the US, was also contacted for comment.
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Roiland, best known for his work on Rick and Morty, co-created this animated sci-fi sitcom about a mad scientist and his grandson with writer Dan Harmon.
The popular adult TV comedy aired on Cartoon Network for six seasons as part of Adult Swim’s nightly shows and has been renewed for a seventh season.
The show won two Emmy Awards for episodes in 2018 and 2020, and won a Hollywood Critics’ Choice Society Television Award in 2022.
Roiland has recently ventured into the art world, having sold several NFT (non-fungible token) art projects over the past few years and also created two projects for TV streaming platform Hulu — Solar Opposites, which was renewed for a fifth season and Koala Man launched this month.
He also published his video games, High On Lifein late December through his studio Squanch Games, the game became the best-selling game on Steam and the fourth-biggest Xbox game the week of its release.