Rep. Kevin Boyle says state hate crimes law must include attacks based on sexual orientation

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 21 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, responded to Friday’s guilty verdict for Kathryn Knott by reiterating the need for prosecutors in Pennsylvania to be able to charge attacks based on sexual orientation as hate crimes.

“While Kathryn Knott was found guilty of assault and reckless endangerment, this attack was clearly a hate crime against a gay couple and it should have been treated as such,” Boyle said.

Knott was part of a group of friends who encountered a same-sex couple in Center City Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 2014. News reports state that the group of friends asked the men if they were “boyfriends,” taunted them, and then physically attacked them. One of the victims was hospitalized with facial injuries that included a broken jaw from the attack.

Two of the other attackers, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan, pled guilty earlier this year and accepted a plea deal while Knott decided to go to trial. 

Boyle introduced H.B. 218, which would amend the state’s hate crimes law to include sexual orientation. A crime motivated by hatred toward these protected classes would be graded one degree higher than already specified in law. 

“Many believe, and I agree, that the horrible attack perpetrated by Knott and her friends was a hate crime,” Boyle said. “Unfortunately, the current law did not give Philadelphia’s district attorney the opportunity to charge these attackers with a hate crime. We need to rectify Pennsylvania's hate crimes law now before another horrific hate crime goes unpunished.”