Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles has been accused of sexual assault by former Alamo Drafthouse employee Jasmine Baker, Indiewire reported. Baker alleges the assaults took place in 1999 and 2000 at Alamo Drafthouse events. But she told Indiewire, "I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent."
"Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion," Baker said, and the first time the alleged assault took place, Knowles "rubbed up against her buttocks and legs" and "on at least one occasion, she said he also put his hand under her shirt," Indiewire wrote. Knowles responded to Indiewire and Baker's claims saying: "I categorically deny it."
Even though the assault happened nearly two decades ago, Baker sees a societal shift in hearing and believing the victims of sexual assault.
"Twenty years ago, 18 years ago, women routinely were encouraged to just watch their own behavior," she said, "and other people who wanted to do inappropriate things or say inappropriate things and be inappropriate and leer and be lecherous without your permission, without your consent, the air in the room was more on the side of, ‘Well, you should watch what you do,’ not, ‘Don’t touch people without their consent. No means no.'”
Baker said she shared the alleged assault with Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League when it first happened, and although they "thought it was horrifying," she said, they "also didn’t know what to do."
On top of founding the highly influential and popular movie-and-television news and criticism website, Ain't It Cool News, Knowles has become one of this era's more recognizable film commentators. He has also guest hosted "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies" and is noted for his participation in various film festivals and for supporting various filmmakers.
In response to this report, several Ain't It Cool News staffers — including Eric Vespe and Steve Prokopy have left the organization.
— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) September 25, 2017
An announcement about my leaving Ain't It Cool News. pic.twitter.com/4vyJIhMycQ
— Steve Prokopy (@SteveProkopy) September 25, 2017
Indiewire reported last week that Harry Knowles wouldn't be attending the "Fantastic Fest," the Austin festival he co-founded, and also that Ain't It Cool News was no longer a sponsor. Knowles' absence, as well as Drafthouse founder Tim League's, are hooked to the scandal surrounding former editor-in-chief Devin Faraci and his quiet rehiring by League after he was accused of sexual assault last year.
Nonetheless, Baker believes the Faraci controversy is bringing about necessary change within the Austin film community.
"I’m not saying that the Leagues have done things correctly, or always done the right thing when problems or improprieties were brought to their attention," Baker said. "However, it appears that they are really trying to do something now, the right way." She continued, "They have told me that they are listening now and they’re ready to take action. They’re ready to do the right thing. So I look forward to seeing what that right thing is like."