Harry Cabluck / AP
Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles has been accused of sexual assault, prompting two longtime employees to quit the popular movie news and review website on Monday.
The fallout happened after Jasmine Baker of Austin, Texas, told IndieWire Knowles repeatedly rubbed up against her and touched her without her consent at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in 1999 and 2000. He also allegedly put his hand up her skirt.
“Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” Baker told IndieWire. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”
Knowles did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment Monday, but told IndieWire: “I categorically deny it.”
Knowles and his team built Ain't It Cool News into a widely read and influential website for not only movie and science fiction fans, but Hollywood studios trying to manage expectations for upcoming films.
But the allegations prompted Steve Prokopy, known as the writer Capone who served as the site's Chicago editor, and longtime contributor Eric Vespe to resign.
“This was a remarkably easy decision to make; a scary and emotional decision, but an easy one,” Prokopy said in a statement he posted on Twitter. “I have known too mammy women over the years — both inside and outside the film community — who have encountered and survived sexual harassment and/or assault to allow myself to remain involved in an organization where allegations of either are part of the landscape.”
Vespe also announced his decision on Twitter, saying Knowles' alleged behavior was “impossible to defend” and he could not “in good conscience, continue to contribute to the brand I helped build over the last 20 years.”
Baker said she worked at the Drafthouse from 2003 to 2007. When she reported the behavior to theater founders Tim and Karrie League, Baker said they were horrified but told her to just avoid Knowles in the future, according to IndieWire.
Earlier this month, Alamo Drafthouse issued a public apology after it was uncovered that their former editor-in-chief, Devin Faraci, had been quietly hired back as a copyrighter after being let go for alleged sexual assault.
“In light of all that has happened for them publicly, today they might make a different choice about how to handle someone they did business with,” Baker told IndieWire. “But at that time, they were trying to bring inclusiveness to everyone and also didn’t want to confront a business partner.”
Tim League and Knowles founded Fantastic Fest annual film festival in Austin, but it was announced last week that neither of them would be attending this year’s event.
Baker told IndieWire she initially ran the accusations by friends, but they shrugged them off. She said she was bringing them forward again because attitudes are changing about what’s considered acceptable behavior and how people address sexual misconduct allegations.