FBI charges Massachusetts woman over Boston Children’s Hospital bomb threat

The FBI said Thursday that an arrest was made in connection with a bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital last month.

Catherine Leavy of Westfield, Massachusetts, was arrested without incident and charged with one count of making a false bomb threat over the phone, according to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. She faces up to five years in prison.

FBI Special Agent Joseph R. Bonavolonta told a news conference Thursday that the threat was one of “more than a dozen” against Boston Children’s Hospital. He said authorities were investigating others.

Boston Children’s Hospital had been the subject of a “sustained campaign of harassment based on the dissemination of online information” about trans healthcare at the hospital.

Rachael Rollins, the US attorney from Massachusetts, said at the press conference. A caller to the hospital on August 30 reportedly said, “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital. You better evacuate everyone, you sick people.

Several children’s hospitals, including boston for kids, have been the target of a far-right harassment campaign for months, led by anti-trans influencers with millions of collective followers who have spread misinformation about gender-affirming treatment from hospitals for minors. Influencers have also run anti-LGBTQ campaigns against schools and libraries who have been featured in conservative news programs.

Police investigated another threat against Boston Children’s around 11:30 a.m. ET on Friday, the second to earn a police response in less than two weeks.

Last week, some of the same influencers began to express doubts that the bomb threat was real. On Wednesday, one of the main drivers of the harassment campaign, Chaya Raichik of the influencer account LibsOfTikTok, tweeted an email response from Boston police saying the threat did not go through 911.” Many questions remain. Will journalists investigate? Raichik tweeted to his 1.3 million Twitter followers.

Raichik did not respond to a request for comment.

Boston Children’s Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an earlier statement, a spokesperson said the hospital had been the target of “hostile internet activity, harassing phone calls and emails, including threats of violence.”

The FBI’s announcement comes a day after a California man pleaded guilty in the same court for threats against the offices of Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary publisher closed its offices in Springfield, Massachusetts, after the man, Jeremy David Hanson, sent the company a threat in October to “shoot and bomb your offices for ying and creating false definitions in order to pander to the trans mafia.” The threat came shortly after the dictionary made changes to use gender-neutral definitions of certain words.

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