A hearing has been scheduled for next week at which a judge will consider whether to release Kathryn Knott from prison.
Common Pleas Judge Roxanne Covington will hold a parole hearing 9:30 a.m. July 12 in Room 906 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St. Knott's attorney, Bill Brennan, filed a petition for parole Wednesday, requesting his client be released July 8, five months after she began her five- to-10-month prison sentence at Riverside Correctional Facility.
Covington handed down the sentence after a jury in December convicted Knott of four misdemeanor charges in relation to a September 2014 gay-bashing incident.
Brennan told PGN Thursday that it's "a little atypical but perfectly normal if the court decides it's necessary" to hold a hearing before issuing a decision. Brennan plans to reiterate in court the arguments made in his petition, mainly that Knott has been a "model inmate" during her incarceration.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," he said about the hearing development. "We're heading in the right direction, so we'll see."
Prosecutor Mike Barry told PGN he will not argue against Knott being paroled. He said he spoke with the victims, Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught, who are not opposed to her request.
"We're not going to object to Ms. Knott getting parole," Barry said. "It's standard procedure that, if somebody behaves and has no prison infractions, they'll be released at the earliest possible parole date and we don't normally object to that unless there's been an issue. We're going to treat it like we did any other case for Ms. Knott; we were happy with the sentence she got, and she was eligible to get out in five months. It looks like she behaved so we're not going to have an objection."
Covington last month denied without comment Brennan's request for an early release for Knott based on earned time, good time — essentially that she had behaved well during her prison sentence.
Once she's released, Knott will have to pay a $2,000 fine and serve two years of reporting probation. She will also have to undergo anger-management classes, and a stay-away order will be issued prohibiting contact between Knott and the victims and their families. She will also be prohibited from entering Center City Philadelphia during her probation.
She is also facing two lawsuits: a civil suit from the victims, and a federal suit from a Norristown woman.
In that case, Kathleen O’Donnell contends Knott, her father, the Bucks County District Attorney and others took part in a conspiracy that resulted in her termination from her job. O’Donnell was fired after detectives visited her workplace during an investigation of a complaint by Knott, who took issue with an online account operated by O’Donnell under the moniker “Knotty is a Tramp.”
Knott and her father, Karl, filed a joint motion last month to dismiss the one count of the lawsuit in which they are named as defendants. The other defendants have also asked for the suit’s dismissal.
The Knotts contended in their brief that O’Donnell did not illustrate material facts to prove they conspired to violate he First-Amendment rights.
“A plaintiff cannot get by with mere speculation, but rather must allege with specificity and support an actual meeting of the minds,” they said in the brief. “There is no indication of who agreed with whom or what they agreed to do. In fact, there is no actual allegation that any of the minds actually met, only that the defendants acted with the common purpose, which, of course, does not amount to conspiracy.”
In arguing against O'Donnell's claims of First-Amendment violations, the brief claims that O'Donnell is actually responsible for committing the torts of “appropriation of name or likeness” and “publicly placing a person in a false light,” suggesting she also committed libel and identity theft. It goes on to note that the intersection of First-Amendment rights and the Internet have yet to be fully addressed by the courts.
O’Donnell is seeking damages of $5 million.