Four More Women Accuse Harry Knowles of Sexual Assault and Harassment

Four more women have spoken out with allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles. After IndieWire posted a story last week in which an Austin-area woman came forward with stories of sexual assault in the early-aughts, other women took to social media to share similar allegations. IndieWire spoke with three of the accusers. Here are their stories.

IndieWire has reached out to Knowles for comment, and will update accordingly.

Gloria Walker, 29, is an Austin resident and member of the local film scene. In the wake of Baker’s allegations, she wrote on Twitter: “On more than one occasion HK has grabbed my ass and other parts of me. I just learned to not go within grabbing distance of him.”

While Walker is not a film professional, she is an avid film lover and has long been a member of Austin’s close-knit film community. It was through that community that she first came to know Knowles. “The people that were working in the film industry let me know he’s kind of gatekeeper, kind of a big deal,” she explained. Despite moving in the same circles, Walker says she does not and has never considered him a friend.

In 2011, hoping to see “Captain America” at an AICN-sponsored screening at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse, she reached out to Knowles about getting her name on the list, which was reportedly full at the time. Per Walker, “He responded that I could get in if I gave him a kiss.” Walker did not comply, but was put on the list and attended the screening. When she saw Knowles at the event, she hugged him, because she felt “obligated to at least be face to face with him, after he put me on the list.”

Later, Walker attended one of Knowles’ Halloween parties, and when she walked past him, she alleges “he touched my ass, my thighs… a little grab, as I was walking by.” Walker said that by the time she was able to react, Knowles was “already looking away, or he was kind of laughing, acting like nothing happened.” Walker said that Knowles touched her without her consent on two or three different occasions before she began avoiding him.

Walker said that she had been warned about Knowles’ behavior by the time of the incidents; her sense it was something most people tolerated and were reticent to address. “What I got is, ‘That’s Harry! That’s just what he does! Adjust your proximity to him and deal with it,'” she said.

When Walker saw Baker’s story on a Fantastic Fest fan page, “The first thing I said was, ‘I 100% believe this person,'” she said. “It’s something that a lot of people know about, it’s not a secret.” Walker felt it was time to bring her allegations to the light. “I just felt like if Jasmine was brave enough to come forward first, then I should at least be as brave to come second,” she said. “I started thinking about all my friends who came after me, that maybe it happened to me, but then later it happened to them, and I started thinking, ‘If people don’t say something, it’s going to keep happening.'”

Walker said that believes that change is coming now that more allegations are coming to light. “It’s not just the women that say this is wrong, it’s the majority of people saying this is wrong. It really makes you feel safer coming out about it.” She added, “People need to talk.”

Austin film writer and ScreenCrush associate editor Britt Hayes, 32, has a similar story. Like Walker, Hayes went public with her allegations on Twitter in the wake of the Baker story, posting that “Harry sexually harassed me. he has sexually harassed other women in this community for years. this wasn’t an anomaly. he is a predator.”

In 2011, Hayes attended Knowles’ annual Butt-Numb-a-Thon event, a 24-hour movie marathon thrown to celebrate his birthday, touting secret screenings of old and unreleased films, often accompanied by famous guests. The next year, Hayes was unsure if she wanted to participate again, a thought she put on Twitter. She said Knowles soon reached out, asking if she wanted to know “the real way” to get into BNAT (thousands of people jockey for limited spots). Curious, Hayes asked. His response: “Show me your tits.”

Hayes said she subsequently unfollowed Knowles on Twitter and, when presented with him in person, avoided him. “For a while, it was uncomfortable to be in a place where he was, because I just didn’t want to be around him,” Hayes said. “I didn’t feel unsafe, but I didn’t want to be around him. I didn’t want to associate with him at all.” 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.”

Hayes said Knowles’ writing compounded her discomfort. “You’ll often find misogynist perspectives in them that are very blatant, not like coded language, very blatant comments that are really repulsive. It’s sort of astonishing to me that people still — or, I guess, hopefully not as many now — respect him.” In the wake of the Baker allegations, a number of examples have been pointed out online, including his “Blade 2” review and a review of the television series “Heroes.”

Like Walker, Hayes said stories about Knowles’ behavior are “prevalent” in Austin, though she’s seen an uptick in conversation over the past five years. “I think there’s something that made us feel like there’s nothing that could or would be done about it, because it was such an accepted behavior, socially,” she said. That, she thinks, is rapidly changing.

Hayes is eager for her experiences, and those of other women who stepped forward, to push the conversation toward growth and change, though she’s clear that there is a long process ahead. “There is no one real answer,” she said. “There’s no one real answer to any of this, from any side, that’s going to please everyone. But I think the intention and what you do with this information, that’s what important.”

Hayes believes that such intentions are already on display with the Alamo Drafthouse and its leadership, including Tim League and other members of the company, particularly on the Fantastic Fest side. “The best thing that you can hope for is that this really changes, and that women are not sexually harassed or assaulted anymore,” she said. “I think we still have a really long way to go, but this is a very good first step… Even the people with the best intentions make mistakes, all of us have blind spots.”

This article continues on the next page.

Another film writer, who goes by the online handle “sick__66” and wishes to stay otherwise anonymous, alleges that as recently as this May, Knowles harassed her on Twitter. The Miami resident, 23, was first approached by Knowles online in April, after he followed her on the social media platform and reached out via Twitter direct messages. The two have never met in person.

Over the course of a month, the pair shared a friendly conversation over direct messages about film history, with Knowles frequently sharing stories of his career and connections. (IndieWire reviewed the full history of these messages.) In the messages, Knowles writes frequently about things he’s done over the course of his work, name-dropping such celebrities as Kevin Smith, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro. (At one point, he sent “sick__66” a link to his wedding invite video, noting that it was directed by Jackson.)

After a month of communicating, Knowles asked “sick__66” to come to Austin, to which she did not respond, deeming the interaction “creepy.” A month later, Knowles messaged her again after she posted a selfie, writing that her “eyeliner made her look good enough to eat” and that she could “have his vienna [sic] sausage anytime.” “sick__66” did not respond to the messages, though when Knowles redirected the conversation back toward filmmaking (with another note about how her eyeliner “brings out the carnal”) she did reply, only addressing the film topic. She says Knowles responded once more and then never spoke to her again.

After the Baker allegations were reported on IndieWire, “sick__66” posted screenshots of the “totally unsolicited” conversation (see below) to Twitter, where she also announced that she had unfollowed Knowles on the social media platform and that she was “tired of dealing with this.”

Initially, she hoped that conversation would lead to professional connections. “I hate to sound naïve, but I really was kind of excited that he was talking to me at first, because everyone knows who he is and he has this influence,” she told IndieWire. “I did think that maybe I could establish a professional relationship…I thought making that connection could be good for me.” After taking her allegations online, “sick__66” expressed concern over how going public could impact her fledgling writing career, writing that she felt she had “successfully fucked her writing career.” Though she said many messages have been supportive, she worries other outlets will not want hire to avoid “controversy” attached to her name.

She said she was inspired to speak out after the publication of Baker’s allegations, though she was disturbed by recent controversies involving the Alamo Drafthouse and Devin Faraci. Despite other women coming forward with allegations and a mostly positive response online, “sick__66” briefly made her Twitter account private after receiving messages that, amongst other things, called her a liar and accused her of fabricating the direct messages. At least one person told her she didn’t deserve to be writing for the film community, which she told IndieWire “hurt my feelings, because he doesn’t deserve to write for the community, considering how he treats the people who are in it.”

“sick__66” has also received messages of a different kind: Other women said they had endured similar harassment from Knowles. Three sent her direct messages about incidents, and two others on her Twitter mentioned their own allegations. “I just hope that the next time somebody comes forth with something, somebody does something immediately, as opposed to having to wait 20 years to be able to say something,” she said.

Elsewhere, earlier this week, former Alamo Drafthouse employee Jill Lewis took to her Facebook page to share her own story about Knowles (while Lewis declined to speak to the press, she gave her permission for her story to be shared from her public Facebook post, which you can see below).

In Lewis’ post, she writes: “Fast forward to Harry Knowles, whom one night during FF at the old Highball, grabbed my arm, asked me to come closer, and then told me he was on mushrooms, and that he and his wife had been talking about wanting to see me naked, and asked me to do just that with them that night.” (The Highball, a bar attached to the Drafthouse’s South Lamar location, closed for renovations in 2012 and reopened in 2014.)

She added, “I had never had any personal conversations with this man outside of FF/Alamo business, and honestly, I had kept my distance to brief pleasantries due to the common knowledge that he was a creepy man. I was completely disgusted, politely declined, and left.”

Though no longer professionally associated with the Alamo Drafthouse, Lewis also hopes the allegations will push the company and the Austin film scene at large into a place of positive change, bolstered by real action.

She wrote, “We can’t move forward to a safe, inclusive environment for everyone, unless words spoken are backed with honest actions,” adding of the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest that she “wish[es] them the best, and hope[s] they will honestly address the issues, and move forward as bigger, better, and safer institutions.”

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