Suspects Charged in Center City Beating of Philadelphia Gay Couple

District attorney says "assault on people because of their sexual orientation" has no place in Philly

Philadelphia's District Attorney's Office announced charges Tuesday afternoon against three Bucks County residents -- including the daughter of an area police chief -- in a Center City beating of two gay men.

One woman and two men face aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment charges in relation to the Sept. 11 violent attack on two gay men in Center City that left one of those men in the hospital with multiple fractures.

District Attorney Seth Williams issued the arrest warrants for Philip Williams, 24; Kevin Harrigan, 26; and Kathryn Knott, 24. NBC10 confirmed that Knott's father is Chalfont Borough Police Chief Karl Knott. NBC10 has left a message for Chief Knott.

The suspects are expected to surrender Wednesday morning around 7 a.m.

Sources told NBC10 the 27-year-old and 28-year-old victims were walking from a restaurant in the area of 16th and Chancellor around 10:45 p.m. when suddenly they were approached by a visibly intoxicated group of men and women.

Witnesses say someone in the group asked, "Is this your f****** boyfriend?"

When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest.

“I would like to thank the police for their thorough investigation and the public for the outpouring of information and tips in this case,” said Williams. “This vicious attack shocked the entire country. An assault on people because of their sexual orientation has no place in Philadelphia.”

Police say one of the suspects also snatched a victim's bag containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. The group then fled in an unknown direction.

"It was a bunch of screams at first," said witness Geoff Nagle. "...a lot of punching and kicking."

Another witness, who asked to remain anonymous, says he heard the group screaming homophobic slurs.

"It was surprising that it happened in front of me, I never witnessed a hate crime based on that," the witness said. 

Defense lawyer Louis Busico, who represents Knott, denied that the dispute was motivated by anti-gay bias. He also said his client, who has relatives in law enforcement, did not throw a punch.

"She in no way participated in the assault of anyone," Busico said Tuesday. "(And) she didn't hurl an insult or a slur, of any kind."

Like others seen in the group, she graduated from Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster. One man in the group has since stepped down as a part-time basketball coach at the Roman Catholic school. He was not charged Tuesday.

"Violence against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable and alien to what it means to be a Christian," Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, speaking about the case, said last week in a statement.

Pennsylvania's hate-crimes law does not cover crimes motivated by a person's sexual orientation.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, along with openly gay state Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia and others have said the case illustrates the need for a change in the law.

Williams didn't say if anyone else would be charged in the case.

The victims of the attack released a statement regarding the arrests Tuesday afternoon.

"Thank you to the  community 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. Please show your support for legislation change protecting the LGBT community this Thursday in LOVE Park at 2 p.m."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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