Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League has released a statement in the wake of controversy brewing around Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles, who several women have recently accused of sexual assault and harassment. The theater chain and its associated Fantastic Film Fest have become implicated in a recent firestorm of controversy starting in August with the news that blogger Devin Faraci was still working for them after a sexual assult accusation.
On Saturday, an Austin, Texas-area woman named Jasmine Baker shared her story with IndieWire, accusing Knowles of sexually assaulting her two decades ago during an event at Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin-based movie theater chain and distribution company. She said the cinema owners did not take action. Two decades later, Baker has spoken out about the alleged assault in an effort to drive change. Since IndieWire published the story, Ain’t It Cool News contributors have stepped down and four more women have accused Knowles of sexual assault and harassment. League responded to the culminating events in his statement:
“I’ve been reflecting on twenty years of decisions as a business owner. In the early days, [Alamo Drafthouse co-founder] 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.”
He went on to say:
“As many of you know, I decided to skip Fantastic Fest this year. I feel that the most important thing I can do right now is to travel to all of our theaters, talk with our staff and listen. I’ve hosted 12 sessions so far and there are many more scheduled for the next three weeks all over the country. As much as I’d like to be at the event, I need to be with our staff and lead a positive path forward for the company… 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.”
As IndieWire reported, more women, including Austin-based film writer and ScreenCrush associate editor Britt Hayes, have started to speak out about Knowles’s behavior. After seeing the news of Baker’s allegations, Hayes stated on Twitter that “Harry sexually harassed me” and other women over the years.
Although she “did not want to associate with him at all,” Hayes told IndieWire, Knowles’s strong reputation in the Austin film scene and beyond presented a threatening situation. IndieWire reported:
“She said Knowles occasionally hosted and introduced screenings that she attended as part of her work, events she could not refuse to attend.
At the time, Hayes was a fledgling writer. ‘There was a hesitance on my part to really talk about it publicly, because at the time, I thought, ‘This could really hurt my career,’ she said. ‘There’s just something really, deeply unsettling about him and the way that he enjoys the attention that he gets, and the way that he leverages his power for attention.'”
On Sept. 13, League announced that movie blogger Faraci stepped down from working for a second time at Alamo Drafthouse, less than a year after he left his position as editor-in-chief of the cinema chain’s Birth.Movies.Death., in the wake of being accused of sexual assault. League had said on that Faraci had “entered recovery” and had been sober since the allegations were made in 2016; League announced Faraci’s departure the next day.