Three Charged in Assault of Gay Couple in Philadelphia

By Julissa Catalan


Three suspects accused of viciously beating a same-gender couple in Center City Philadelphia turned themselves in and were arraigned on Wednesday .

Kevin J. Harrigan, Kathryn Knott and Phillip Williams were all charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Under Pennsylvania law, the suspects cannot be charged with a hate crime. LGBT-rights activists in Philadelphia are currently pushing to add orientation to the state’s hate-crimes law.

The victims, a gay couple who are 27 and 28 years old, released the following statement:

“Thank you to thecommunity for their help and support, as well as the detectives who did a great job gathering details,”they wrote. “We are thankful the DA is working so hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again in Philadelphia. Finally, we ask you to keep your comments regarding the suspects respectful and non-hateful.

According to authorities, the two men were attacked on Chancellor Street on Sept. 11 at 10:45 p.m. by a group of about 10 to 12 “unknown males and females” who “made disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation” before and during the attack. Some of the suspects held the victims down while others assaulted them.

“This vicious attack shocked the entire county. An assault on people because of their sexual orientation has no place in Philadelphia,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.

The couple believe they were victims of a hate crime, saying that the interaction began when someone yelled to them, “Is that your f—ing boyfriend” The altercation occurred when they responded yes.

According to the couplewho wanted to remain anonymousthe attackers screamed homophobic slurs, calling them “dirty f—-ts” during the brutal assault.

“I had three, four guys on me. I turned around and saw [my boyfriend’s] head hit the ground, like hard,”said the 28-year-old victim. “I was horrified. I thought he was dead.”

The victims are said to have suffered serious injuries including an orbital fracture and a broken jaw.

Police also said that one of the suspects stole a victim’s bag during the beating, which contained a cellphone and a wallet with credit cards.

The investigation is said to have taken longer than usual because authorities wanted to properly identify the aggressors of the group.

Fortunato Perri Jr., attorney for both Harrigan and Williams, maintains that the attack was unrelated to sexual orientation and that his clients did not become involved until one of the victims threw the first punch.

“In no way was this because of someone’s sexual orientation,”Perri Jr. said. “This was a mutual confrontation that escalated because a young girl was struck in the face.”

Kathryn Knott’s lawyer, Louis Busico, made a similar assertion: “Ms. Knott is absolutely not homophobic and she didn’t utter any slur to anyone, whatsoever.”

Yet a string of Knott’s tweets says otherwise.

“She played no role in this other than going out to dinner with friends the night this happened,” Busico said. “We don’t deny that there was a gentleman who was assaulted. We don’t deny that this gentleman was injured. But I unequivocally deny that my client did anything to hurt this man; she wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

Since being charged, Knott has been suspended from her job at Abington Health Lansdale Hospital, where she has worked as an operating-room technician for three years. The hospital also said it is investigating Knott for potential privacy-policy violations for reportedly posting photos of patient X-rays to her Twitter feed.

“Abington Health takes patient privacy and confidentiality very seriously and is fully investigating this matter,” the hospital said in a statement.

Knott has even tweeted about the perks of having a police chief as a father:

Karl Knott, Chief of Police of the suburban Chalfont Borough Police Department, has yet to make any public comments regarding his daughter’s arrest.

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