Convicted Philly gay basher Kathryn Knott is asking a judge to consider her request to stop serving jail time and instead read a public service announcement as punishment for her part in a 2014 homophobic attack against a gay couple. A court date is set for March 8, when a Philadelphia judge will “consider the merits” of a motion filed by Knott’s new lawyer, and will not change her sentence at that time, Philly reports.
After three days of deliberations, jurors convicted Knott, the daughter of a local suburban police chief, of simple assault and three other misdemeanors in the September 2014, per the Advocate. She also received two years of probation, a $2,000 fine, and was ordered to attend anger management classes. Last October, her co-defendants Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams coped a plea and each were sentenced to probation, 200 hours of community service at an LGBT Center and a ban on entering Center City – where the hate crime occurred – during their probationary period.
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According to reports, Knott was offered the same deal but opted to go to trial and ended up with the most severe punishment. Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry said she refused the deal because she denied participating in the attack. Prosecutors offered plea deals to each defendant so the victims could avoid the trauma of a trial.
“(They) preferred very strongly that we give a sentence that, rather than just send someone to jail, sent a message and maybe changed what these people were about,” ADA Michael Barry said.
Kathryn’s attorney, William J. Brennan, argued the 5-10 month sentence she received should be equal to the sentence of her co-defendants. He is now asking the court to allow Knott to record a public service announcement (PSA) in exchange for serving any additional jail time.
“She’s learned that words and actions have a much more far-reaching impact and effect than she ever thought possible,” Brennan said, according to the Voice. “She learned that your life can change on a dime. I think, rather than warehouse her in jail for a few months and that be the end of it, perhaps some community service or a public service announcement might be more proactive and productive in addressing the larger issues that this case dealt with.”
From left: Kevin Harrigan, Kathryn Knott and Philip Williams pic.twitter.com/bK3xMxot1a
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The hate crime occurred as Kathryn and 15 friends were celebrating a birthday in downtown Philly, and they crossed paths with a gay couple who were walking to get a pizza. After Harrington began harassing the couple, he then became physically violent toward them and a scuffle ensured that left one gay man with a broken jaw and the other with black eyes. During Knott’s trial, the jury heard evidence about her racist and antigay rhetoric on Twitter. She claimed in court that she tried to stop the attack, but witnesses testified she and her homophobic companions left the couple bleeding on the sidewalk and continued on their way.
“She left (one victim) laying there in a pool of blood, and just went off and went about her merry way,” forewoman Joan Bellinger told reporters after Knott’s December sentencing “I am so offended… by the fact she came into my city, and did this to people that she knew nothing about.”
The attack prompted officials to expand the city’s hate crime law to include protections for sexual orientation.
“This behavior is a violation of human rights,” said Judge Roxanne Covington in sentencing Knott last year. “This could have been any of us and while these were homophobic slurs… It could have been any type of hateful word. There was a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of this crime. Working in the medical field, I don’t know how you could walk away and leave someone bleeding on the street.”
Kathryn Knott is currently serving her sentence at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Holmesburg. Her attorney called the sentence imposed on her “excessive” and said it was “the result of public opinion.” He wants the community to know that his client “has learned a lot in the 18 months” between the hate crime and the trial, and a punishment that includes a PSA would be beneficial to the city.
[Images courtesy AP Photo/Matt Rourke]