News (USA)

Gay basher in horrific Philadelphia hate crime now claims self-defense

Last year, Kathryn Knott spent five months in jail because of her role in a horrific hate crime in Philadelphia. Now, in the civil trial, she is claiming self-defense.

In 2014, Knott and 14 of her suburbanite friends were in the city to celebrate a birthday. They crossed paths with Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught, a gay couple, and then beat the couple while shouting anti-gay slurs. Haught’s eye socket was broken and his jaw was shattered. He had his mouth wired shut for eight months to recover from the injuries.

Now she is facing a civil suit from the victims, who are seeking $500,000 in damages from her and two men in the group, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan. According to the response prepared by her attorney, she is claiming self-defense. Her response says that the victims may have been injured, but it only happened because she was defending herself from Hesse, Haught, “and their friends.” The victims were alone that night, so it is unclear what “friends” Knott was supposedly afraid of, and witnesses at the trial say that the encounter began when one of the 15 friends shouted an anti-gay slur at the victims.

Knott’s response also blames Harrigan and Williams for the victims’ injuries. Harrigan and Williams each filed a response last year, and each of their responses blames the other two co-defendants. The trial, scheduled to begin in September, will have each of the three co-defendants pointing their fingers at the other two but claiming that they didn’t do anything.

Knott’s story has changed since the criminal trial, where her attorney claimed that she never “touched a soul” and even rushed to the group to try to protect the victims. Eyewitnesses and surveillance camera footage contradicted that claim.

Prosecutors also pressed charges against Harrigan and Williams, but they accepted a plea bargain that resulted in probation. Knott, the daughter of a suburban police chief, rejected the plea bargain and took her case to trial. The jury convicted her of assault and reckless endangerment.

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