Ain’t It Cool News Founder Harry Knowles Accused of Sexual Assault

Harry Knowles
Wesley Mann

“I was an arrogant little f--- when I was in my 20s,” says Harry Knowles today, grinning. “Like nobody’s bigger than me.” You can see a glimpse of Knowles at his most callow and hateable in a 1998 TV clip from Inside Edition. “When Lethal Weapon 4 was filming the gas station blowing up in L.A.,” he boasts, “I had, like, 76 people on set covering that. That’s, like, double what CNN had to cover O.J.”

“Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion. I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent," the victim told IndieWire.

A woman says Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles sexually assaulted her at Alamo Drafthouse events in 1999 and 2000, according to IndieWire. She says she was encouraged to brush off the situation after she brought it to the attention of the co-founders of the Drafthouse, a revivalist theater that has become the nexus of a moviegoing movement rapidly expanding to locations around the country.

“Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” Jasmine Baker told IndieWire. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”

Baker added that Knowles "rubbed up against her buttocks and legs in a way that made her feel uncomfortable" and "put his hand under her shirt." When Baker confronted Knowles and told him he didn't have the right to touch her, she says he "just giggled about it."

IndieWire also spoke with two of Baker's friends who confirmed she told them of the incidents.

Knowles responded to the allegations telling IndieWire, "I categorically deny it." He added that he and Baker were friends and that their friendship ended in 2002 when he broke up with a mutual friend. "She treated me like a confidante," said Knowles of Baker.

When Baker worked for Drafthouse from 2003-2007, she says that co-founders Tim and Karrie League were horrified when they found out about the incident. Baker says that they "didn't know what to do" and suggested that she "just avoid him."

Tim League exclusively told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement that he quietly rehired Devin Faraci, former editor-in-chief of Drafthouse's film site Birth.Movies.Death, this year after he resigned due to sexual allegations. League apologized for his actions and said he was helping give Faraci a second chance for recovery from substance abuse. He posted his statement on Facebook as well.

Knowles' Ain't it Cool News not only became a popular, widely read destination for movie geeks and fans, but the first of its kind to influence Hollywood studios and bring a focus on the expectations of the fans for a film.

Knowles caught the attention of filmmakers including George Lucas and Peter Jackson, who, in a guest column for THR, lauded Knowles' impact on Lord of the Rings and for being the reason Elijah Wood was convinced to audition for Frodo. When Lord of the Rings was experiencing early negativity press, Jackson enlisted Knowles to help him connect with readers in a nothing-off-limits Q&A about the adaptations which "created a goodwill that saw us through to the release of the movies."

Ain't It Cool News recently dropped out as a sponsor of Fantastic Fest — created by Tim League and Knowles in 2005 — days before it began on Thursday. Knowles and the Leagues are not attending this year. "There was a rumor about me and an ex-girlfriend that felt ugly,” Knowles told IndieWire on his reasons for not making an appearance. "They're a complete fabrication and a lie."

Baker says she hopes her speaking out will change people's perception of acceptable behavior and help them to not look the other way when these types of incidents are brought forward. She also said she's working on re-communicating with the Leagues about the incident. “They have told me that they are listening now and they’re ready to take action," says Baker. "They’re ready to do the right thing. So I look forward to seeing what that right thing is like.”