Three people were charged in the beating of two gay men in Philadelphia, the city’s District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday. Two men and one woman face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment in the attack on two gay men, a 27-year-old and a 28-year-old, in Center City on Sept. 11 that landed one of the victims in the hospital with multiple fractures in his face.
“I would like to thank the police for their thorough investigation and the public for the outpouring of information and tips in this case,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement. “This vicious attack shocked the entire country. An assault on people because of their sexual orientation has no place in Philadelphia.”
The attack reportedly occurred after one of the members of a group of young men and women, whose images were widely circulated on social media after police released surveillance video showing the individuals, made disparaging remarks about the men’s sexuality and asked if they were a couple. One of the victims replied “yes,” after which several members of the group began punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest, police said.
Philadelphia police completed the investigation into the incident Monday and forwarded the findings to prosecutors. Police concluded there was “sufficient evidence” to charge some of the people involved in the attack.
Warrants were issued for Philip Williams, 24, Kevin Harrigan, 26, and Katherine Knott, 24.
While law enforcement initially termed the incident a hate crime, Pennsylvania does not cover sexual orientation under hate crime laws. The gay bashing sparked calls for state lawmakers to adopt legislation that would expand the state’s hate crime laws to include lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people.