Three suspects — including the daughter of an area police chief — have turned themselves in to authorities in connection with the assault on a same-sex couple in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Yesterday, police announced charges against Kathryn Knott, 24, Philip Williams, 24, and Kevin Harrigan, 26, in relation to the September 11 attack, with each suspect facing two counts of aggravated assualt, two counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and criminal conspiracy. All three are residents of nearby Bucks County, Pa.
Knott is the daughter of Chalfont Borough police chief Karl Knott, according to WPVI TV.
In a case that's already seen social media used to help identify the suspects, the arrest of a police chief's daughter has prompted an eruption of commentary. LGBT writer and activist Scott Wooledge searched through Knott's Twitter account, then posted a Storify collection of Knott's most hateful, intolerant tweets, highlighting her apparent homophobia, xenophobia, and penchant for excessive drinking.
BuzzFeed reported Wednesday afternoon that Knott has been suspended from her job as an Emergency Room technician at a hospital owned by Abington Health. A statement from the hospital confirmed that Knott had worked there since 2011, but was suspended due to her connection with the antigay assault, and upon the discovery that several of her tweets — including images of an x-ray and severed fingers — may have violated privacy laws.
Witnesses and victims have said the attack involved as many as 15 "clean-cut, well-dressed" individuals, who allegedly directed antigay slurs at a male couple as they beat the men so severely that both spent time in the hospital, while one of the victims had to have his jaw wired shut.
Attorneys for Knott and Williams have both claimed that their clients are innocent, alleging that the confrontation was a dispute started by the gay couple and that the suspects acted in self-defense, reports Philadelphia's KYW TV.
While there is evidence that the men were attacked because of their sexual orientation, Pennsylvania law does not recognize attacks motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes. While state politicians and civil rights groups are calling on legislators to pass a stalled bill that would make the law more inclusive, some residents — including a Philadelphia City Council member — have asked the federal Department of Justice to investigate, in hopes of bringing hate-crime charges against the assailants, as federal law does cover antigay attacks. The U.S. Attorney's Office is aware of the case, but has not decided whether to take additional action, reporrts NewsWorks.
The victims, who have asked to remain anonymous, released the following statement to media Wednesday: "Thank you to the community for their help and support, as well as the Detectives who did a great job gathering details. We are thankful the DA is working so hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again in Philadelphia."