2 sentenced in Center City attack on gay couple

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Philip Williams (left) and Kevin Harrigan have pleaded guilty in the attack on a gay couple in Center City.

By Jason Nark

Daily News Staff Writer

There will be an invisible fence around Center City, from river to river, Washington Avenue to Girard, for two Bucks County men accused of attacking a gay couple last year.

Philip Williams, 24, of Warminster, and Kevin Harrigan, 26, of Warrington, were both sentenced to probation, community service at a LGBTQ center yesterday before Common Pleas Court. Both men will also voluntarily stay out of Center City as part of their probation deal, though an attorney for one admitted it would be difficult to enforce.

Williams and Harrigan both addressed the court briefly, turning briefly to victims Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught in the front row, and both of them denied the attack was about sexual orientation.

“That’s not the way I live my life. That’s not who I am,” Williams said.

Harrigan said “it is what it is.”

“We’re very sorry about the situation,” he said.

A third defendant, Kathryn Knott, 25, of Southampton will go to trial, her attorney, Louis Busico said. Busico pointed out that prosecutors did not say that Knott physical assaulted anyone that night.

“Kathryn has always denied touching anybody,” Busico said.

The three Bucks residents are accused of shouting anti-gay slurs to Hesse and Haught before fists began to fly on Sept. 11, 2014, when they encountered the gay couple at 16th and Chancellor streets. Hesse testified at a preliminary hearing in December that he was punched so hard that it staggered him. Haught got punched about four times and was grabbed in a head lock before he fell to the ground, where he laid motionless for minutes.

Haught spent five days in the hospital and had his broken jaw wired shut for just over seven weeks, Hesse testified.

The case blew up the Internet and prompted social media sleuths to help catch the crew.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry said Hesse and Haught supported offering the defendants plea deals in the case, hoping they’d learn from their actions rather than sit in jail. He said the case struck a nerve with everyone in the LGBTQ community and spoke on behalf the couple.

“Center City is supposed to be a place of refuge,’ Barry said. “Their hope is that the sentencing handed down will make people feel safe. The whole city was hurt.”


Contact Jason Nark at narkj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5916 or @JasonNark

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