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PHILADELPHIA: $52K County Settlement For Woman Fired Over Web Comments About Convicted Gay-Basher

The photo above is of convicted gay-basher Kathryn Knott.

The Philadelphia Intelligencer reports:

The Bucks County Commissioners approved a settlement agreement Wednesday with a Norristown woman who claimed the county District Attorney’s Office retaliated against her because of disparaging comments she made on social media.

Commissioners Charles Martin and Diane Marseglia voted in favor of a $52,207.50 cash payment to Kathleen O’Donnell and her Pittsburgh-based attorneys at Kraemer, Manes & Associates. Commissioner Rob Loughery was not in attendance at the Wednesday morning meeting. Bucks County Solicitor Michael Klimpl said Thursday that he could not comment on the specifics of the settlement until it has been signed by all parties.

According to court records, O’Donnell filed a federal suit against Bucks County, former District Attorney David Heckler, county detectives Martin McDonough and Mark Zielinski in April 2016. The suit claimed that the detectives cost O’Donnell her job when they visited her workplace to question her about comments she made online about Kathryn Knott, an Upper Southampton woman who was found guilty in December 2015 for her role in the assault of two gay men in Philadelphia.

From a 2016 Philadelphia Inquirer report:

The suit says she was “expressing her opinions and outrage” about the attack on the two gay men when there was intense media scrutiny of Knott, who before the attack had expressed antigay sentiments on social media.

O’Donnell alleges that Knott learned of the blog and that her father, Karl Knott, directed her to complain to the Bucks District Attorney’s Office. Karl Knott was then chief of Chalfont Borough police in Bucks County and now is captain at the Central Bucks Regional Police Department.

O’Donnell says that in August 2015, two Bucks County district attorney detectives went to her office at Walker Parking Consultants in Wayne. The detectives, Martin McDonough and Mark Zielinski, first met privately with O’Donnell’s boss, James Pudleiner, and told him that O’Donnell had posted “harassing comments” about Kathryn Knott, sometimes from a computer at her work, the lawsuit says.

From a 2016 Philly.com report:

After Knott was arrested shortly after the attack on two gay men in Center City, the Internet let loose with negative comments about the now 25-year-old Archbishop Wood graduate. Among the negative commenters was Norristown’s Kathleen O’Donnell, who set up an anonymous account on Disqus, a blog commenting tool used by countless websites, including Philadelphia magazine.

The name of O’Donnell’s account, according to court documents, was “Knotty is a Tramp,” and the profile image was an unflattering photo of Knott drinking directly from a large bottle of Fireball. O’Donnell used the account to post comments on news articles about Knott.

According to O’Donnell, the detectives threatened her with arrest if she didn’t stop posting the negative comments about Knott, and she told them that she would not post on the account again. She then deleted the Disqus account in question. The complaint states that the detectives told her that she had been “fraudulently impersonating” Knott, but O’Donnell maintains that it was a “parody account,” not an attempt to actually impersonate anyone.

In October 2017 the victims of the gay-bashing settled their civil suit against Knott and her two male accomplices for an undisclosed amount. (Tipped by JMG reader Joe In PA)