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February 05, 2016

Knott to be sentenced Monday for role in Center City assault

Sentencing guidelines call for the Bucks County woman to receive probation

Kathryn Knott will be sentenced Monday for her role in the 2014 beating of a homosexual couple in Center City that left a man unconscious with broken cheekbones and a fractured jaw.

Knott, 25, of Upper Southampton, Bucks County, has a 3 p.m. sentencing hearing scheduled before Common Pleas Court Judge Roxanne Covington at the Criminal Justice Center.

Knott was found guilty of simple assault, conspiracy and two counts of reckless endangerment in December in the beating of Andrew Haught and his boyfriend, Zachary Hesse.

Sentencing guidelines call for probation, but the four misdemeanor counts against her each carry a maximum two-year prison sentence. But as a first-time offender, Knott is unlikely to see any jail time.

Witnesses testified that Knott struck Hesse, who suffered minor facial bruises, and shouted homophobic slurs during an altercation initiated by her co-defendant, Kevin Harrigan. Haught later was knocked unconscious by Philip Williams, another co-defendant.

The trio, part of a larger group of 15 people, left Haught bleeding at 16th and Chancellor streets and headed to a nearby bar for drinks.

The beatings attracted widespread media coverage as police sought to identify the responsible individuals, caught on surveillance videos as they walked to and from the incident. That attention persisted through Knott's trial.

The negative impact the beatings had on Philadephia's image and the pain they caused to the LGBT community will factor into the prosecution's recommended sentence, Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry said. He declined to comment on the specific sentence prosecutors will pursue.

"Obviously, we're putting great weight into the wants and needs of Andrew Haught and Zachary Hesse," Barry said. "I've spent a lot of time with these guys. I've tried to learn what they went through and impart that to the judge."

Harrigan and Williams each accepted plea deals in October that included probation, 200 hours of community service at an LGBT center and a ban on entering Center City during their probationary period.

Knott was offered the same plea deal as Harrigan, which included three years of probation, Barry said. But she elected to face trial.

"She was given a chance to get a very reasonable sentence and a reasonable outcome from this case, mostly from the victims and their desire to show some mercy," Barry said. "Those notions are gone now."

Knott's attorney, Louis Busico, did not return a call seeking comment. After the verdict was announced, Busico said Knott should not be penalized for extending her constitutional right to a trial. He also stressed that Knott is not homophobic.

"There isn't a fiber of her being that is homophobic," Busico said. "She doesn't view people as gay or straight. She views them as a person and then makes her determination about the individual based on how they present – not who they go home to."

A jury consisting of eight women and four men acquitted Knott of six of the 10 counts against her, including a pair of felony aggravated assault charges. The jury also exonerated her of three conspiracy charges and committing simple assault against Haught.

Three jurors spoke openly with the media following the trial, offering their remorse for the victims. They also expressed disappointment in Knott, who testified in her own defense.

"She saw nothing wrong in what she did – and that is so bad," jury forewoman Joan Bellinger said after Knott's conviction. "She didn't appear apologetic. It was like what is the big deal? And it was a big deal. It was a big deal for everybody. I am so offended by everything about her."