Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles has stepped forward to deny published claims from a former Alamo Drafthouse employee that he sexually assaulted her on two occasions in 1999 and 2000.
The accuser, Jasmine Baker, told IndieWire in a story published on Saturday that Knowles assaulted 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 told IndieWire he “categorically denied” Baker’s claims and also denied them in a tweet on Saturday calling the allegations “100% untrue.” He said that his friendship with Baker ended in 2002 shortly after he broke up with a mutual friend.
There’s a story coming about me that is 100% untrue. I was this person’s friend and confidant. I wish her nothing but the best. But untrue
– Harry Knowles (@headgeek666) September 23, 2017
Baker said she reported at both incidents to Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League, for whom she later worked from 2003-07. Baker told IndieWire that the Leagues “sympathized” with her but only advised her to stay away from Knowles. There is no indication if Baker ever reported either incident to Austin authorities.
Neither the Leagues nor Knowles responded to TheWrap’s requests for comment; Baker could not be reached for comment.
“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.”
Baker said she came forward now because she believes positive change is being made. “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,” she said. “However, it appears that they are really trying to do something now, the right way.”
Baker’s accusations come as many in the Austin indie film community have been questioning attitudes and behavior toward women. This month, there has been a firestorm over the Leagues’ support for Devin Faraci, former editor-in-chief of Drafthouse-owned movie site Birth.Movies.Death, even after he resigned last year amid accusations that he had sexually assaulted a woman.
Earlier this month, Tim League confirmed that Faraci had remained on staff as a copy writer for Drafthouse as he dealt with a substance abuse issue. League said the Alamo Drafthouse had now “permanently” parted ways with Faraci.
“I’ve realized that decisions I have made over these past months have been problematic,” League wrote on his public Facebook page. “I am concerned about what these choices may say about me and the values of this company to employees, customers and the community at large. I’m humbled and deeply sorry.”
The news of Faraci’s continued employment prompted the departure of Todd Brown, director of international programming for Drafthouse’s science-fiction and horror festival Fantastic Fest, while Fox Searchlight pulled “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” from the festival’s program.
“I am not impressed by the instinct for self-preservation,” Brown said in his statement Saturday. “The only concern — literally, the ONLY concern — expressed by League in his apology is for himself and his company.”
Last week, Ain’t It Cool News was removed as a sponsor for Fantastic Fest, and neither Knowles nor the Leagues planned to attend.