The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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BREAKING: Guilty Pleas Made in Philadelphia Gay Bashing Case; No Jail Time

 Philip Williams, Kathryn Knott, Kevin Harrigan

A judge today accepted the deals offered to two men who entered guilty pleas in exchange for no jail time in the beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia last year.

Philip Williams, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy, while 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan pleaded guilty to simple assault and conspiracy, reports Philadelphia TV station WPVI

Harrigan, who pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault and one count of conspiracy, was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $314 in restitution, according to a statement released by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office. Williams, who pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and one count of conspiracy, will spend five years on probation, and pay $628 in restitution.

As part of the plea deal, both men will also complete 200 hours of community service at LGBT organizations, and have agreed to not enter City Center Phildelphia, where the attack took place, for the duration of their respective probations.

The third person charged, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, rejected the deal and will stand trial next month. 

The attack in Philadelphia’s City Center on September 11, 2014, left Zachary Hesse and his boyfriend, Andrew Haught, hospitalized with a broken jaw and cheekbones, resulting in his jaw being wired shut. The couple says they hope the punishment will send a message that prevents others from being attacked, reports WPVI.

Initial reports of the brutal attack suggested that as many as 15 people confronted the couple on the street in Philadelphia’s City Center neighborhood the night of September 11. In a December arraignment, Hesse testified that after a short exchange of words, Harrigan asked if he was “a dirty faggot,” which led to Hesse being shoved and shoving back, reported TV station WCAU.

“I approached him and said, ‘Maybe I am a dirty fucking faggot,'” Hesse said. “He pushed me, I pushed him.” The confrontation then escalated, and witnesses called 911. 

Police identified Knott, Harrigan, and Williams as the primary assailants and arrested and charged the trio last September. Shortly after the three were arrested and released, Knott was identified as the daughter of a Bucks County police chief. Social media exploded with images of homophobic and racist slurs on her Twitter feed. Her feed also exposed misconduct in her job at Abington Health, and she was subsequently terminated.

Pennsylvania does not have hate crime laws inclusive of sexual orientation, though Philadelphia’s City Council unanimously passed an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes law in response to the attack last November. Despite the lack of formal hate crime charges, out Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims said the attack was definitely a hate crime

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