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Arts and Entertainment

Multiple Ain't It Cool News Staffers Quit Following Sexual Assault Allegations Against Founder

Harry Knowles at 2010 Comic-Con in San Diego. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)
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At least three writers have resigned from Ain’t It Cool News, the Austin, Texas-based film news website, following sexual assault allegations against the site’s founder.

Eric Vespe, better known as his pen name Quint, announced in a statement on Twitteron Monday that given the allegations of “behavior impossible to defend,” he would no longer be contributing to the brand he helped build over the last two decades.

Steve Prokopy, a writer and film critic who used the byline, “Capone,” also tweeted news of his departure on Monday, calling it “a scary and emotional decision, but an easy one.” His exit came two days after the pseudonymous writer “Horrorella” announced she would no longer be writing for the site.

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“This decision doesn’t come lightly and carries a considerable amount of emotional weight for me and my colleagues who have also decided to step away from the community that we love, including Steve ‘Capone’ Prokopy and ‘Horrorella,” Vespe said in a statement. “Ain’t it Cool has been my home since I was 16 years old, however I feel to stay would be showing disrespect to survivors of harassment and abuse.”

The resignations were prompted by allegations that were reported by Indiewire on Saturday. Jasmine Baker told the website that Harry Knowles, the founder of Ain’t It Cool, rubbed up against her butt and legs during an event at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in 1999 and 2000. She also alleged that Knowles, whom she knew from his website, put his hand under her shirt without consent.

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

Knowles categorically denied the allegations to Indiewire. They surfaced in the midst of the annual genre film festival Fantastic Fest, whose co-founders include Knowles and Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League.

The allegations came less than two weeks after Devin Faraci stepped down (again) from Alamo Drafthouse after outraged critics discovered he’d been writing again for its film website, Birth.Movies.Death. Faraci had been fired as the site’s editor-in-chief following a sexual assault allegation nearly a year ago.

“I am concerned about what these choices may say about me and the values of this company to employees, customers and the community at large,” League said in a statement following Faraci’s resignation. “I’m humbled and deeply sorry.

Faraci's was not the first sexual assault scandal to rock the indie film community in recent weeks. Cinefamily founder Hadrian Belove resigned from the L.A. institution on Aug. 22 following sexual misconduct allegations that circulated in an anonymous email.

Baker, the woman who accused Knowles of sexual assault, told Indiewire that she chose to come forward now, almost two decades after the alleged assault, because she felt that attitudes are changing around how people address accusations. She said she’s been in contact with the Leagues and that they’ve been receptive to her concerns. “It appears that they are really trying to do something now, the right way,” she said.