A Massachusetts woman pleaded guilty on Thursday to calling in a fake bomb threat to Boston Children’s Hospital as it faced a barrage of harassment over its surgical program for transgender youths.
Catherine Leavy, who was arrested last year at her home in Westfield, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to charges including making a false bomb threat, according to prosecutors. She’s scheduled to be sentenced in March.
The most serious charge she pleaded guilty to carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Her attorney, Forest O’Neill-Greenberg, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Authorities say the threat was called in August 2022 as the hospital, which launched the nation’s first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program, was facing an onslaught of threats and harassment.
The hospital became the focus of far-right social media accounts, news outlets and bloggers last year after they found informational YouTube videos published by the hospital about surgical offerings for transgender patients.
The caller said: “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital, you better evacuate everybody you sickos,” according to court documents. The threat resulted in a lockdown of the hospital. No explosives were found.
Leavy initially denied making the threat during an interview with FBI agents, according to court documents. After agents told her that phone records indicated her number made the threat, she admitted doing so, but said she had no intention of actually bombing the hospital, prosecutors say. She “expressed disapproval” of the hospital “on multiple occasions” during the interview, according to court papers.
Boston Children’s Hospital is among several institutions that provide medical care for transgender kids that have become the target of threats. Medical associations said last year that children’s hospitals nationwide had substantially increased security and had to work with law enforcement, and that some providers needed to get constant security.