Judge won't reduce jail time in gay-bashing incident

Kathryn Knott
Kathryn Knott
Posted: March 16, 2016

The Bucks County woman convicted for her role in a 2014 attack on a gay couple in Center City will not get a reduced jail sentence, a Philadelphia judge ruled Monday.

Common Pleas Court Judge Roxanne Covington called appropriate the five- to 10-month prison term she imposed on Kathryn Knott, and chided Knott for a "complete disconnection with the incident itself and a failure to take personal responsibility herself for the crimes she was convicted of."

Covington told Knott, 25, that she remained "in need of correction" and that a lesser sentence would "depreciate the seriousness of the crimes."

Knott, who has been serving her sentence at the city's Riverside Correctional Facility for women since Feb. 8, did not speak during the hearing. Her attorney, William J. Brennan, said afterward he had 30 days to appeal.

Brennan argued that Knott, of Southampton, has adjusted well to prison, cleaning toilets at Riverside and taking her required anger-management classes.

Brennan said Knott has a permanent address in the city's Fox Chase section, to which she could be released to electronically monitored house arrest and a job waiting with a local crane-rental company.

The remainder of Knott's sentence might be better served, Brennan continued, by having her appear in television public-service announcements about the crime and its impact.

"A PSA that's ongoing long after this case, by the face of hate, the face of intolerance," Brennan said. "Isn't that more long-lasting?"

Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth called the suggestion of a public-service announcement featuring Knott "comical if it were not so offensive."

Ruth objected to any change in Knott's sentence: "Nothing has happened, nothing has changed since this defendant was sentenced. . . . Why is this defendant so special?"

Knott was one of three people charged in the Sept. 11, 2014 incident in which a crowd calling out antigay slurs set on two gay men, Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught, as they walked at 16th and Chancellor Streets in Center City around 10:30 p.m.

Both men were injured - Haught seriously, sustaining a broken eye socket and jaw.

Two men from Bucks County, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan, pleaded guilty last October to assault and conspiracy in a deal reached by their lawyers and the District Attorney's Office.

Both were sentenced to probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service with an organization supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. They also were barred from visiting Center City while on probation.

But Knott, daughter of Chalfont Borough Police Chief Karl Knott, rejected a similar plea deal and chose to go to trial before a jury.

In December, the jury convicted Knott on four misdemeanor charges - simple assault, conspiracy to commit simple assault, and two counts of reckless endangerment - but acquitted her of felony charges of aggravated assault.

jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

www.philly.com/crimeandpunishment

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