Arrest warrants have been issued for three people in the beating in Philadelphia's Center City neighborhood that left two gay men hospitalized earlier this month, reports Philly newspaper The Inquirer.
The Philadelphia District Attorney's office today announced it had approved arrest warrants for Philip Williams, 24; Kevin Harrigan, 26; and Kathryn Knott, 24. All are from Bucks County, northeast of Philadelphia. Each will be charged with two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of simple assault, two counts of recklessly endangering another person, and one count of criminal conspiracy, the D.A.'s staff told The Inquirer.
The attack on two gay men by a group of as many as 15 people has drawn outrage from both Philadelphia residents and state politicians. There is no provision in the hate-crime statutes of Pennsylvania covering crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation, so the assault cannot be prosecuted as a hate crime on the state level.
"With or without the hate-crimes statue, there's no question, this was a hate crime," assistant district attorney and D.A. LGBT liaison Nellie Fitzpatrick told Edge. "As it stands now, a special hate-crimes charge cannot be brought against them. Not because we don't want to, but because our hands are tied because it's not in the law."
Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett has publicly condemned the actions of the assailants. He has also condemned anti-LGBT discrimination, but he has yet to express whether or not he would support House Bill 177 , which would expand hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation, according toBuzzFeed.
"In the wake of the crime in Philadelphia, the governor condemns the attack and crimes based on discrimination," Corbett's spokesman Jay Pagni told BuzzFeed. "Without addressing the language in specific legislation, the governor condemns discrimination and crimes resulting from discrimination whether that discrimination be based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. Again, the governor condemns the attack."
Attorneys for those in the group of accused assailants say the incident began after words were exchanged and that one of the gay men threw the first punch, according to Edge. The gay couple and the accused attackers had encountered each other on a street in Center City, a heavily gay enclave.
"You've just got a lot of people," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey toldThe Inquirer Monday. "Trying to sort through it all, as to who may have done what, who may have gotten physically involved -- you have to sort through all these things. It takes a little time to do that."