Harry Knowles, the founder of movie blog Ain’t It Cool News, is taking a leave from the site amid allegations of sexual misconduct, including claims of harassment and groping.
“Teaching my sister the ins and outs of AICN for take-over,” Knowles wrote Tuesday night on Twitter. “I feel she’s doing a great job, while I step away. Tomorrow she emails contacts.”
Last week, a woman named Jasmine Baker came forward with allegations against Knowles, claiming to Indiewire, “Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion. I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.” According to Baker, Knowles’ first incident of sexual misconduct against her occurred during an Alamo Drafthouse event two decades ago. In the wake of the Indiewire report, multiple other women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Knowles.
The claims against Knowles, which he has denied, came as Alamo Drafthouse weathered its own storm of controversy after it was revealed the company’s co-founder, Tim League, had rehired journalist Devin Faraci for a copywriting job, months after Faraci stepped down from the Drafthouse’s Birth.Movies.Death website amid his own sexual assault allegations.
Speaking to Indiewire, Baker said League and his wife, Karrie, thought Knowles’ alleged actions against her “was horrifying, but also didn’t know what to do.”
“Their suggestion was, ‘Just avoid him,'” Baker, who later worked for Alamo, said.
In 2005, Tim League and Knowles, who are both based in Austin, Texas, were among the co-founders of the city’s Fantastic Fest — the film festival occurring now through Thursday. Neither League nor Knowles participated in this year’s event and Ain’t It Cool News was dropped as a sponsor of Fantastic Fest before the festivities began.
In a statement this week, League addressed the Knowles allegations and the company’s future.
“I’ve been reflecting on 20 years of decisions as a business owner. In the early days, Karrie and I conferred on all tough decisions, and we always tried to do the right thing. To this day, the core value of the company is just that, the simple principle to always ‘do the right thing.’ Recent perspective has made it clear that we didn’t always do the right thing, despite what we thought were good intentions. To the women we have let down, Karrie and I both sincerely apologize,” League wrote, noting he was in the midst of a nationwide listening tour to “talk with our staff” in an effort to “lead a positive path forward for the company.”
Of Knowles, League wrote, “Moving forward, we have severed all ties with Harry Knowles and he is no longer affiliated with the company in any capacity. 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 wrote that Fantastic Fest planned to build out a new Board of Directors group “whose focus will be to further enhance and refine the experience of the festival; nurture and provide more opportunities for young genre filmmakers; and provide the best, most open and inclusive environment for this unique film community.”
In the wake of the allegations against Knowles, numerous Ain’t It Cool News staffers resigned.