Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Suspect Kathryn Knott Suspended From Nursing Job

ABS News reporter Kenneth Morton shares on his Facebook page that Philly gay-bashing defendant Kathryn Knott has been suspended from her job as a nurse due to the charges filed against her in the violent September attack on two gay men.

In addition, the hospital is now investigating whether Knott violated medical privacy laws by tweeting personal medical files and scans on her Twitter account:

“We can confirm that Kathryn Knott has been employed at Lansdale Hospital since May 2011.

“Because of the nature of the charges against her, she has been suspended from her job as an Emergency Room tech.

“We are investigating an additional issue that was brought to our attention related to this employee’s Twitter account for potential violations of patient privacy and our organization’s social media policy. Abington Health takes patient privacy and confidentiality very seriously and is fully investigating this matter.”

(h/t JMG)

Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Suspects Mugshots Released

The Philadelphia gay-bashing suspects turned themselves in to police earlier today, and now their mugshots have been released.

From Philadelphia Magazine:

From left, they are: 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan of Warrington; 24-year-old Kathryn Knott of Southampton; and 24-year-old Philip Williams of Warminster.

All three defendants are charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person.

In related news, Lou Nuscio, lawyer for Kathryn Knott, spoke on talk radio 1201 WPHT today saying not only is she innocent of the violent charges, “she couldn’t bust a grape.”

She is a gentle, kind person who was never in trouble before. She has zero animus to anybody, let alone somebody of a particular group or persuasion. This young woman, on her best day, couldn’t bust a grape. She hurt no one. She struck no one. Simply stated, she didn’t do this.”

Buscio went on to say that the media is making a bigger deal out of this violent episode than it is since “this is an event that happens a hundred times a day in cities throughout our country. It’s a simple assault case.”

I’m not so sure about the “zero animus to anybody” part of her lawyer’s statements.  That may be difficult to prove in court in light of Knott’s Twitter account which shows several posts where she appears to be not only homophobic but racist.  She also seems to have used her father’s connections to get back at someone who cut her off while driving.  See below:

Meet Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Defendant Kathryn Knott

LGBT advocate Scott Wooledge has Storified several of Philadelphia gay-bashing defendant Kathryn Knott’s Tweets to give the public a glimpse into the 20-something’s mind.

According to Scott, “She seems nice. And a little racist, and a little homophobic. And frequently drunk or hungover.”

I think it’s interesting to note that Knott is the daughter of Chalfont, Bucks County Police Chief Karl Knott. Neighbors of the Knotts were reportedly “not surprised” by the charges brought against Kathryn.

UPDATE: All three defendant’s have turned themselves in according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia: Three Suspects Charged In Violent Gay Bashing

Arrest warrants have been issued and charges filed in the brutal gay bashing incident of almost two weeks ago in Center City Philadelphia.

With charges ranging from aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment, three Bucks County residents – two men and one woman – will be charged for the violent attack of September 11, 2014, on two gay men.

From NBC Philadelphia:

District Attorney Seth Williams issued the arrest warrants for Philip Williams, 24; Kevin Harrigan, 26; and Katherine Knott, 24. No word yet if any of the trio surrendered to authorities.

“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.

Here’s a report from the local NBC affiliate summarizing the violent episode:

Pennsylvania State Sen. Jim Ferlo Comes Out At Hate Crimes Bill Rally

State Rep. Brian Sims of Pennsylvania speaks at press conference for adding LGBT protections to hate crime law

The recent vicious gay bashing that took place almost two weeks ago in Philadelphia has spurned renewed interest in state legislators to add sexual orientation to the state’s hate crime law.

Although there appears to be wide bipartisan support, the GOP-controlled Senate has not shown much interest in bringing the legislation to a vote.

From ABC6:

State Senator Larry Farnese of Philadelphia says the fact that there are only a few days left before the end of the current legislative session is no excuse to keep Senate Bill 42 from getting passed.

Farnese said a press conference this morning, “We can do a separate session or a special session on booze, we’ll do a special session on pensions. Why can’t we do a special session on equality?”

Senate Bill 42 and House Bill 177 are measures designed to expand Pennsylvania’s hate crime law to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens.

Representative Brian Sims of Philadelphia, who is also a member of the LGBT community, says the fact that this issue is still being debated in Harrisburg is nothing short of outrageous.

Sims says, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Get used to it. There’s a million of us in this state, and we deserve the same rights and the same protections as everybody else.”

Senate Bill 42 was drafted by Senator Jim Ferlo of Pittsburgh, who took the opportunity to formally come out.

“Hundreds of people know I’m gay. I just never made an official declaration. I never felt I had to wear a billboard on my forehead. But I’m gay. Get over it. I love it. It’s a great life,” Ferlo said.

Philadelphia: Gay Bashing Suspects To Be Arrested This Week

According to a source close to the current police investigation of the Center City gay bashing incident, arrests should happen this week and “people are going to get locked up.”

As of this morning, police had interviewed 18 possible suspects and witnesses.  One more key person of interest – “the girl in the middle of it all” – will be interviewed today.

The process has been time consuming as police want to make sure they “get it right,” and each interview takes at least four hours:

“We’ve had to schedule with the attorneys for all the different times for them to come in,” the source said. “But Monday morning as soon as the stores opened, we started working through the video and then we started the interviews. We want to make sure whoever threw a punch or whoever was part of this assault will be arrested. What happens with cases like this is that, if you rush it and don’t do a good job, they’ll start throwing out charges later on. These kids all have top-notch attorneys, so if our case isn’t put together on our end, they’re going to pick it apart. But we’ve put together a great case for the DA and we’ll be working in conjunction with the DA to bring the charges.”

“The stories have been pretty consistent so far,” the source said. “It looks like it started by either a bump or words being exchanged, and then punches were thrown. But not everyone in the crowd knew what was going on. People were kind of staggering, and some didn’t seem to realize the extent of the one guy’s injuries.”

“It’s a tragedy for the two guys who were hurt and it’s a tragedy for some of the people in the crowd because the majority weren’t involved,” the source said. “But the guys who were involved are going to pay the price.”

The violent attack has renewed attention on the lack of hate crime laws with respect to crime on LGBT people.

In 2002, the state legislature had added sexual orientation to the hate crime laws, but it was later challenged and repealed on a technicality. State Rep. Brendan Boyle has introduced a bill to amend the current hate crime law to include LGBT citizens.

Philadelphia: Rally Scheduled in Support of LGBT Inclusion in Hate-Crime Law

As public outcry continues to grow regarding the gay bashing incident in Center City last week that sent to gay men to the hospital, the subject of Pennsylvania’s hate crime law and it’s lack of inclusion of LGBT folks is getting a lot of attention.

Not only from pubic citizens but the state’s elected officials.

From Philly.com:

“The gay guy in me and the Philly guy in me are pissed,” said state Rep. Brian Sims, “but I’m a legislator, and my job is to change policy.

“If we can do anything to draw enough attention to this to give the hate-crime bill some buoyancy, we need to do it.”

Sims, a Democrat whose district includes the site of the attack, is organizing a rally Thursday in LOVE Park, at which officials and members of the city’s LGBT community will push for change in Pennsylvania’s hate-crime law.

He’s joined in his efforts by state Sen. Larry Farnese – a Democrat whose district serves parts of North Philly, Center City and South Philly – who will hold a news conference inside the Capitol on Tuesday.

“It upsets me that it takes something like this, a horrific assault, to cast light on the fact that Pennsylvania is woefully behind in protecting its people,” Farnese said last night.

“We should not have to hold press conferences on equality in 2014.”

The rally will take place in LOVE Park on Thursday, September 25th at 2pm.

In addition to state legislators, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf (currently 24 points ahead of Gov. Corbett in the polls) has announced his support for amending the state’s hate crime law.

Via press release:

As governor, I will work to level the playing field by promoting legislation like House Bill 300 that makes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression a protected class and House Bill 745 that amends Title 18 of the Ethnic Intimidation Act to include sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity.

And I will be a vocal advocate for the right of all Pennsylvanians to be treated with dignity and respect. I wish a full and speedy recovery for the two victims, and I hope the people responsible will be brought to justice swiftly.”

Philly gay-bashing witness – It wasn’t self-defense

Philly Mag has reached out and spoken to one of the witnesses of the vicious gay-bashing that took place in Center City last week.

In light of one of the alleged attacker’s lawyer bringing up the idea of self-defense, Philly Mag asked the witness what he saw and if the violence could have been motivated by “self-defense.”

Here’s just a portion of the interview:

Do you have a sense of what set this off?
It seemed to me that the two larger guys were fed up with what the other guys were saying, and one of the victims was pushing one of the women away, but just a little bit. And I could also hear some slurs like “fucking faggot” and I also heard someone say “I am sick of this fucking faggot.” If you saw the victims, they were small, not as large as the two guys. And then, it happened so quickly, one of the victims is lying unconscious, bleeding from the head. There wound up being a one- to two-foot puddle of blood where he was hit and knocked unconscious. He wasn’t moving. There was a blood stain on the ground until it rained two days later.

Was the whole group of 12 punching and kicking the victims?
Not that I saw when I got over to my window. There was really one guy that inflicted what I saw. The punches I saw from him were what knocked the one guy out. You see those kinds of punches in boxing matches a little bit, but you don’t see them in person. It really connected. The guy got knocked out cold.

How did the attack end?
It was a quick thing. Punches were exchanged. And I think that when they realized how serious it was, they went on their way. The women started covering their faces. He hit the concrete and didn’t pop back up. When the paramedics got there, it looked like he had two faces on one side of his face. It was serious. You could see all that just within a couple of minutes.

Was police response quick?
Cops were literally there within a minute. Paramedics were literally 30 seconds behind. I was very impressed by the cops.

It’s been reported that some of the suspects might be trying to invoke a self-defense argument.
I don’t see how it could be self-defense. There were 12 people there. The self-defense thing is a little crazy to me. It wasn’t like a guy just threw a punch to protect himself and ran away. That’s not what happened here. There were multiple punches to the one guy’s face — on both sides of his face.

City Councilman Asks Federal Government To Explore Hate Crime Charges For Philly Gay-bashing

City Councilman James Kenney

Amid the outrage caused by a gay-bashing in Center City last week that sent a gay couple to the hospital, City Councilman James Kenney has called for the federal government to bring hate-crime charges against the group suspected in the attack.

Kenney called the incident “a violent and vicious attack on two human beings because they are gay.”

“It’s a crime of violent bias that calls for the full weight of federal prosecution by the United States Department of Justice,” he said in a statement.

Currently, a crime related to LGBT animus is not covered under hate-crime laws in Pennsylvania, but it is covered under federal law. Sexual orientation had been a part of the hate crime statute until 2008, when the state Supreme Court ruled that such inclusion was a violation of the state constitution.

Police are currently interviewing “persons of interest” but no arrests have been made as yet.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims

In related news, state Rep. Brian Sims – who represents the area where the attack took place – says he will push to change the hate crime law to include gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disability to the hate crime law. Already introduced in 2013, the legislation is not likely to see any activity until 2015.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes it takes a horribly negative experience to get people out of their seats, for them to be active and engaged,” says State Representative Brian Sims of his colleagues in Harrisburg. “It’s not necessarily because they’re opposed but because they aren’t aware of the need. So we are going to be sure to utilize this horrible event to make sure that they hear about it. I’m going to be bringing two people with me who will be able to tell them all about it.”

You can watch Councilman James Kenney speak to the City Council about the attack below: