FBI Arrests Suspect Connected to Boston Children’s Hospital Bomb Hoax

·4 min read
Boston Children's Hospital - Credit: Charles Krupa/AP Images
Boston Children's Hospital - Credit: Charles Krupa/AP Images

The FBI has arrested a suspect in the bomb threat that was made at Boston Children’s Hospital last month, the agency announced on Thursday. Catherine Leavy of Westfield, Massachusetts, has been charged in a complaint with one count of “explosive materials – willfully making a false bomb threat.” Should she be convicted, the federal crime carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

In the days leading up to the arrest, right wing commentators including the Manhattan Institute’s Chris Rufo, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, and Chaya Raichik (also known as the owner of the Libs of TikTok Twitter account) floated theories that the threat had never actually taken place. Jaimee Michelle, the user behind the social media account “Gays Against Groomers” went so far as to suggest that Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz had fabricated the threat, given that Lorenz had previously reported on the anti-trans harassment leveled against Boston Children’s Hospital.

More from Rolling Stone

An archive Rolling Stone obtained of Leavy’s tweets, whose Twitter account appeared to be locked on Thursday, showed she had a history of supporting Donald Trump and she had previously shared anti-vaxx tweets.

On Thursday, during a press conference announcing the arrest and charge, Rachael S. Rollins, United States Attorney District of Massachusetts described the call the hospital said they received on Aug. 30. “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital you better evacuate everyone, you sickos,” the person told the hospital. Authorities immediately put the area around the hospital in lockdown and evacuated the area as a bomb squad was dispatched, but no explosives were found.

Michael Cox, Commissioner of the Boston Police Department said that there might be more charges pending as they investigate the “dozens” of other threats the hospital received, including individual death threats, that the hospital and its staff received. “We’ve charged this alleged one charge, there might be more charges coming,” he said. As of now, “We only have information on this one” incident. A detention hearing for Leavy, who remains in custody, is scheduled for noon on Friday.

Last month, New England’s largest pediatric hospital begun receiving a torrent of threats and harassment that targeted its staff who treat transgender patients after far-right social media accounts began sharing misinformation about the hospital’s transgender care, the hospital said. The ensuing threats appeared to eventually lead to the alleged bomb threat hoax.

Boston Children’s Hospital contacted law enforcement for assistance to help protect its employees and patients who were receiving “a large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff,” as The Washington Post reports.

The threats were particularly aimed at its Gender Multispecialty Service program, which is the first of its kind in the United States. The program works with youth with gender dysphoria, a term that describes people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.

The posts that were shared by far-right social media accounts claimed the program was performing surgeries on “young girls.” The hospital refuted that claim, saying it does not perform gender-affirming hysterectomies on any patient under the age of 18. Additional posts circulated, which suggested the hospital performed other genital surgeries on children. The hospital told The Washington Post that it “does not perform genital surgeries as part of gender-affirming care on a patient under the age of 18.”

The harassment spread to other children’s hospitals nationwide, driven by a campaign led by Libs of TikTok, a Twitter account favored by the likes of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and other right-wing pundits. The account is run by a Brooklyn real estate agent named Chaya Raichik, who began targeting hospitals following a campaign she started accusing LGBTQ teachers of being pedophiles, as The Washington Post reported earlier this month. On Aug. 11 she made the false claim about Boston Children’s Hospital performing hysterectomies on young girls, which appeared to lead to the threats the hospital received.

Best of Rolling Stone

Click here to read the full article.