Father of gay-bashing defendant named to top cop post

The father of one of the defendants in a high-profile 2014 gay-bashing case was named this week to the helm of a suburban police department.

The Central Bucks Regional Police Commission on Monday approved the hiring of Karl Knott as chief of the CBRP, according to The Intelligencer. Knott is the father of Kathryn Knott, one of three people prosecuted for verbally and physically assaulting couple Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught at 16th and Chancellor streets in September 2014.

At the time of the incident, Knott, who has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, had recently become chief of the Chalfont police department. When the CBRP merged that unit with those in Doylestown and New Britain, he took on the post of captain. His promotion to the head of the CBRP reportedly comes with an annual salary of $130,000. 

Knott’s police work was addressed numerous times during his daughter’s December 2015 trial. Prosecutors introduced a number of Kathryn’s social-media postings as evidence, including one in which she bragged about her father letting her kick down a door on a raid and another in which she described her father issuing a ticket to a driver who she says attempted to run her off the road. Knott was present during each of his daughter’s hearings and her eventual trial; she was ultimately found guilty of four misdemeanors and served five months in prison. Her codefendants, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan, pleaded guilty to a number of charges and were given probation and community service.

Knott is a defendant, along with his daughter and several Bucks County detectives and officials, in a federal lawsuit filed by Norristown resident Kathleen O’Donnell, who contends the defendants conspired to violate her constitutional right to free speech. She operated an online profile under the name “Knotty is a Tramp,” using a photo of Kathryn, who, according to court records, discovered the account and sought advice from her father. 

According to court filings, the elder Knott addressed the issue with a Bucks County detective, who instructed him to have his daughter file a report; when she did, the detective’s visited O’Donnell at her workplace and she was shortly thereafter terminated.

O’Donnell is seeking $5 million in damages.