Kathryn Knott jailed in Philadelphia gay-bashing case now faces a civil suit

 Philadelphia Police Department photos of (from left) Kathryn Knott, Philip R. Williams, left, and Kevin J. Harrigan are shown. (Philadelphia Police Department via AP, File)

Philadelphia Police Department photos of (from left) Kathryn Knott, Philip R. Williams, left, and Kevin J. Harrigan are shown. (Philadelphia Police Department via AP, File)

The victims of the 2014 Center City gay-bashing incident have filed a civil lawsuit against the attackers seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages for emotional distress.

On Tuesday, the men, Andrew Haught and Zachary Hesse, filed the suit in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas.

The criminal case against the perpetrators ended earlier this year, but the victims say the attack still affects their lives.

A jury of eight women and four men convicted Kathryn Knott of simple assault and reckless endangerment for her part in the attack that left one man with a fractured jaw and another with a pair of black eyes.

Knott is now serving a 10-month prison sentence, which a judge imposed in February. A month later, Knott hired a new attorney and fought unsuccessfully for a more lenient sentence. 

Two other perpetrators, Kevin Harrigan and Phillip Williams, accepted plea deals and avoided prison time.

Harrigan pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault, and Williams took a plea of one count of conspiracy and aggravated assault, a felony charge. The guilty pleas were in exchange for probation sentence with mandatory community service at an LGBT center.

“Williams and Harrigan got off pretty easy, considering, but Andrew and Zachary were OK with that because they wanted to put the criminal proceedings behind them,” said attorney Andrew Youmen, who is representing the victims in the Sept., 2014 attack that occurred along 16th and Chancellor Streets.

“I think anyone who followed the trial and heard the evidence knows that they will be successful in this case. It has nothing to do with retribution, it has everything to do with justice and compensation,” Youmen said.

Youmen says the two men still think about the beating every time they walk around where it happened in Philadelphia.

“It’s about the fact that every time they go outside, they think about whether they’re safe in their own city. That’s not something they thought about before, and now it’s something they’re forced to think about,” he said.

The three Bucks County defendants are still being served, according to Youmen. None had an attorney available for comment.

In a separate lawsuit to emerge since the criminal proceedings, Kathryn Knott and her father, a former police chief, have been sued in federal court by a blogger for allegedly trying to stop online opinion writing about the younger Knott. The blogger, Kathleen O’Donnell, is represented by Pittsburg-based attorney Martell Harris. A hearing in the case has yet to be set. 

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Haught and Hesse v Harrigan Knott Williams Civil Complaint 5 17 16 (PDF)

Haught and Hesse v Harrigan Knott Williams Civil Complaint 5 17 16 (Text)

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