By SEAN CARLIN
PHILADELPHIA — Three suburban Philadelphia defendants being charged in the beating of a gay couple during a late-night encounter on a city street have turned themselves in to police.
Police said 24-year-old Philip Williams, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott and 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan turned themselves in Wednesday morning. Prosecutors said they were being charged with criminal conspiracy and two counts each of aggravated and simple assault, and reckless endangerment.
The victims told police that a group hurled gay slurs and beat them when the two parties passed on the street on Sept. 11. One man suffered serious facial injuries, including an orbital fracture, and had his jaw wired.
Williams’ attorney Fortunato Perri Jr. said Wednesday after Williams surrendered to police that the case was not related to anyone’s sexual orientation, but was instead a “mutual confrontation” in which his client “was not the aggressor.”
Knott’s attorney, Louis Busico, has also denied that the dispute was motivated by anti-gay bias and said his client, whose family has a law enforcement background, neither threw any punches nor hurled any insults.
“She played no role in this other than going out to dinner with friends the night this happened,” Busico said outside Central Detectives on Wednesday. “We don’t deny that there was a gentleman who was assaulted. We don’t deny that this gentleman was injured. But I unequivocally deny that my client did anything to hurt this man; she wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
A message left for Harrigan’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.
The case gained attention when police posted a video of the well-dressed suspects, and online sleuths used social media sites to help identify them. One man in the group has since stepped down as a part-time basketball coach at the Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster. He was not charged in the incident.
A message left with the archdiocese wasn’t immediately returned.
District Attorney Seth Williams said Tuesday in announcing the charges that the case “shocked the entire country.”
“An assault on people because of their sexual orientation has no place in Philadelphia,” he said in a statement.
Pennsylvania’s hate-crimes law does not cover crimes motivated by a person’s sexual orientation.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, along with openly gay state Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia and others, have said the case illustrates the need for a change in the law.