Ain’t It Cool News Staffers Quit Amid Harry Knowles Sex Assault Claims: ‘Impossible to Defend’

“I can not, in good conscience, continue to contribute to the brand I helped build over the last 20 years,” Eric Vespe says

Last Updated: September 25, 2017 @ 12:46 PM

Eric Vespe and Steve Prokopy, two longtime staffers at film fan site Ain’t It Cool News, have chosen to leave the site after a woman accused founder Harry Knowles of sexual assault, the two announced on Twitter Monday.

Jasmine Baker told IndieWire that Knowles assaulted her on two occasions at official Drafthouse events in Austin, Texas. In one case, she said, he “rubbed up against her buttocks and legs in a way that made her feel uncomfortable” and in another incident “put his hand under her shirt.”

Knowles denied the allegations to IndieWire and called them “100 percent untrue” in a Saturday tweet. However, his defense was not enough to persuade Vespe and Prokopy to remain at Ain’t it Cool News.

“I have known too many 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,” wrote Prokopy in a Monday statement.

“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 Vespe.

Baker said she told Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League about the assault by Knowles, but they just suggested she avoid him.

“At that time, they were trying to bring inclusiveness to everyone and also didn’t want to confront a business partner,” she told IndieWire.

Tim League has been forced to confront a separate sexual assault situation in recent weeks, after he quietly hired former Birth.Movies.Death editor-in-chief Devin Faraci to a position at Drafthouse, after Faraci had resigned from the site due to sexual assault allegations. League apologized for continuing to employ Faraci earlier this month, and the editor stepped down from the company.

Ain’t It Cool News has been a longtime sponsor of Fantastic Fest, the film festival hosted by Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, but Knowles stayed home this year after alluding to accusations about his own conduct.

“There was a rumor about me and an ex-girlfriend that felt ugly,” he told IndieWire earlier this month. “They’re a complete fabrication and lie.”

And before the IndieWire story hit Saturday, film writer Britt Hayes responded to a tweet by Knowles by accusing him of sexually harassing her and other women in the community.