Just a week after the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest came under fire for the quiet re-hiring of former Birth.Movies.Death. editor Devin Faraci—who was accused last year of groping and sexually assaulting a woman several years ago, leading to his now having been twice forced to resign from the Drafthouse organization—similar allegations have been brought forward against the festival’s co-founder, Harry Knowles. “Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” former Drafthouse employee Jasmine Baker said, referring to a series of incidents that happened roughly 20 years ago. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”
Best known as the writer behind Ain’t It Cool News, Knowles is being accused by Baker of multiple incidents in which he “rubbed up against her buttocks and legs in a way that made her feel uncomfortable,” at least one of which happened at a Drafthouse event. The second time it happened, Baker—who says Knowles also put his hand under her shirt without permission—called him out on touching her without consent, but said he “just giggled about it” when confronted.
Later, when Baker told her friends—including Tim League, the Drafthouse CEO whose willingness to re-employ Faraci was met with outrage and resignations last week—she was told to simply try to avoid Knowles. “They thought it was horrifying,” Baker said, referring to League and his wife, Karrie. “But also didn’t know what to do.”
Baker says she decided to come forward now in the hopes that attitudes and permissiveness toward assault and the “boys club” mentality are finally starting to change. “In light of all that has happened for them publicly,” she said, referring to League and his reaction to the Faraci scandal, “Today they might make a different choice about how to handle someone they did business with. But at that time, they were trying to bring inclusiveness to everyone and also didn’t want to confront a business partner.” She also praised League for trying to change, though, saying, “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. However, it appears that they are really trying to do something now, the right way.”
When reached for comment, Knowles “categorically denied” that the incidents in question took place. IndieWire previously reported that, despite his founding status, neither Knowles, nor Ain’t It Cool News, are serving as sponsors of this year’s Fantastic Fest.