ZeRo self-imposes ban from Smash events after allegations of sexual misconduct with minors

Retired Super Smash Bros. player and streamer Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios said he is imposing a lifetime ban on himself from attending future Smash tournaments after responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. These allegations include messaging an alleged 14-year-old in a sexual manner and that he began dating his current girlfriend when she was 15 years old and he was 20.

Following allegations from Jacqueline “Jisu” Choe, who claimed Barrios was showing her “explicit Craigslist ads of sex workers and hentai” while they lived together, Barrios was accused by an anonymous woman named ‘Katie’ that he messaged her in a sexually suggestive manner when she was 14 and he was 19. Additionally, she said he asked her to “masturbate with ice and take pictures” during one exchange.

Katie said that after she began messaging Barrios on Skype in September 2014, he called her several nicknames, including “honey” and “all mine” while frequently flirting. She also said he referred to her as his “secret” and that she couldn’t tell anyone about their conversations. Katie, who says she has left the Smash scene, claims the months she spent talking to Barrios have “haunted” her for years.

“I blamed myself. I admit that I was extremely enthusiastic in our conversations because I was just enamored with the fact that I was talking with a top player,” Katie said. “I idolized you and you used that to your advantage, but because I was so naïve I considered myself responsible for years and thought my experience would be invalid because of my actions.”

In the original accusations by Jisu, she claimed Barrios’ girlfriend was 15 years old when she and Barrios began dating. Barrios, however, said this was “100% false” and there is only two years difference between him and his girlfriend. He also claimed they did not have any “sexual interactions until after she was 18 and we were more serious about the relationship.”

Barrios originally released a statement only talking about his relationship with the other accused people in the community due to the demand of his fanbase asking for his responses. This included talks of D’Ron “D1” Maingrette, Richard “Keitaro” King, and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada.

Jisu, an artist who has a lot of history in the Smash community, responded to that statement by saying Barrios had shown her “explicit Craigslist ads of sex workers and hentai” and would constantly harass her while they lived together and she was 15. 

Following Jisu’s statement and the initial response from Barrios, Melee players William “Leffen” Hjelte and Cody “iBDW” Schwab came out in support of her, with Schwab explaining Jisu’s history with sexual abuse and manipulation in the community. 

Leffen said that he was approached by Jisu to offer advice about how to handle her claims and also shared his first alleged experience with Barrios from Apex 2013, which also involved lewd Anime images. 

“ZeRo and a few other Japanese smashers came over to where we were housed with many other smashers and played,” Leffen said. “I didn’t talk to them at all, but at one point someone brought out a laptop and Zero and one or two Japanese smashers sat down on my sleeping bag, one of them hugged my pillow and they started showing each other very explicit pictures of their favorite Anime waifus.”

Barrios later confirmed the interaction happened but said he doesn’t “remember showing something terrible or extremely explicit.” Leffen did later provide a collection of images that was sent to him, showing that while ZeRo claimed he would not share hentai in public places, he did it frequently online. 

Katie’s comments were also not released until after Barrios’ initial response to the overall situation in the Smash community and Jisu’s allegations were already released. 

Katie chose to remain anonymous to minimize backlash against her by ZeRo’s massive fanbase, something Jisu had to deal with from the moment she spoke out against him. Jisu noted that she had been receiving death threats on all of her social media accounts from people defending Barrios and saying that she was “clout chasing.”

Former Smash pro Bharat “Lima” Chintapall also made a statement, calling out Barrios for “manipulating and blinding” his audience by saying that he was friendly with Jisu the entire time. 

“Later in Zero’s response, he INTENTIONALLY shows Jisu asking him for help with promoting her art and posts,” Lima said. This comes off so disgusting to me in particular. This girl has come out against you saying that you made her uncomfortable, and you’re implying with these select screenshots you chose to show to your audience, that you could never possibly harass her.”

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