On Sept 23 Jasmine Baker, an Austin-area woman who frequently attended events at the city’s Alamo Drafthouse theater and later worked for the company, told IndieWire that Harry Knowles, the founder of film website Ain’t It Cool News, groped her “opportunistically” on more than one occasion.
Her testimony, which she says occurred in 1999-2000, is described in the piece as such:
Baker was at a Drafthouse event when Knowles allegedly rubbed up against her buttocks and legs in a way that made her feel uncomfortable. While she was initially willing to consider it an accident, she said that on a later occasion he rubbed up against her again; she confronted him about his behavior, and made it clear that he did not have her consent to touch her in any manner. “He just giggled about it,” she said. On at least one occasion, Baker alleges that he also put his hand under her shirt.
When reached for comment by IndieWire, Knowles denied the allegations.
When Baker worked for Alamo Drafthouse from 2003-2007 she told founder Tim and Karrie League about the Knowles incidents to which they told her to “just avoid him.” Starting in 1999 Alamo Drafthouse hosted Knowles’ annual screening event “Butt-Numb-A-Thon” and he was also a co-founder of Fantastic Fest.
Now Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest have severed all ties with Knowles, confirmed in a statement from co-founder Tim League. “We are striving to better respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment, and will take actions so those who work at the theater or attend as a guest are not made to feel unsafe,” League writes.
Earlier this month Alamo Drafthouse also officially severed ties with film critic Devin Faraci, who had stepped down from the company after being accused of sexual assault but was then quietly re-employed by League.
Knowles has also reportedly been removed from the Austin Film Critics Association and several staff members for Ain’t It Cool News have exited the site. “Given the recent allegations against Harry Knowles of behavior impossible to defend I can not, in good conscience, continue to contribute to the brand I helped build over the last 20 years,” wrote former writer Eric Vespe in a statement.
Update, 9/27/17: Harry Knowles tweeted that he is stepping away from Ain’t It Cool News and turning the site over to his sister:
Since IndieWire’s first report on the allegations several other women have come forward with anecdotes about Knowles’ behavior.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece mischaracterized Baker’s relationship to Knowles. They were not ‘friendly,’ rather she told IndieWire that she was familiar with him and his website at the time. Jezebel regrets the error.