Police Chief's Daughter, Other Suspects in Beating of Philadelphia Gay Couple Surrender to Police

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

Three Bucks County residents -- including the daughter of a police chief -- accused of viciously beating a gay couple along a Center City Philadelphia street surrendered to police Wednesday morning.

Philip Williams turned himself in to Philadelphia Police around 7:30 a.m. A short time later, Kathryn Knott -- who is the daughter of Chalfont, Pennsylvania's Police Chief Karl Knott -- also gave herself up to face charges.

Kevin Harrigan, 26, turned himself in around 9 a.m.

Williams, 24, didn't speak as he arrived at Central Detectives but his attorney Fortunato Perri, Jr. did comment on the case as did Knott's attorney.

Perri Jr. said Wednesday after Williams surrendered to police that the case was not related to anyone's sexual orientation, but was instead a "mutual confrontation" in which his client "was not the aggressor."

Knott's attorney, Louis Busico, has also denied that the dispute was motivated by anti-gay bias and said his client, whose family has a law enforcement background, neither threw any punches nor hurled any insults.

"She played no role in this other than going out to dinner with friends the night this happened," Busico said outside Central Detectives on Wednesday. "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."

Harrigan's attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr. told NBC10 his client only became involved in an altercation after 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." 

Williams, Knott and Harrigan 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 in which one man suffered serious facial injuries, including an orbital fracture, and had his jaw wired.

District Attorney Seth Williams issued the arrest warrants the trio Tuesday afternoon.

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 the men in the face, head and chest. Video of the group in the moments before the assault led to the trio being identified -- police say Knott is the woman seen in the white dress in the video.

“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 District Attorney 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.

The case gained attention when police posted a video of the well-dressed suspects, and online sleuths used social media sites to help identify them. One man in the group has since stepped down as a part-time basketball coach at the Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster. He was not charged in the incident.

"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 in a statement.

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

"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." 

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.

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

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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