A woman has been arrested and charged with calling in a false bomb threat last month to Boston Children’s Hospital, which has been hit with a barrage of threats linked to its providing of gender-affirming care, US Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael Rollins said Thursday.
“Boston Children’s Hospital has been subjected to a sustained harassment campaign based on the dissemination of information online regarding the services offered by the hospital’s gender multi-specialty service, which, according to the hospital, provides individualized, safe, and affirmative care to gender-diverse and transgendered individuals and their families,” Rollins said.
Catherine Leavy of Westfield, Massachusetts, was arrested Thursday by FBI agents at her home without incident and charged with one count of making a false telephonic bomb threat, said FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta.
The hospital received a threatening phone call on August 30 which said, in part, “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital. You’d better evacuate everybody, you sickos,” Rollins said.
The threat led to the hospital and surrounding areas being placed on lockdown and a bomb squad being dispatched, Rollins said, and it was determined “no explosive devices were located at the hospital.”
Investigators were able to identify a cell phone account that made the call and linked it to Leavy “through court authorized search warrants and other techniques,” according to Rollins. The telephone used to make the alleged threat was recovered when Leavy was arrested, she said.
While multiple threats have been called into the hospital, at this time Leavy is only being charged in connection with one call, Rollins said.
The 37-year-old appeared before a magistrate judge for an initial appearance Thursday afternoon, Rollins said, and will be held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday afternoon.
CNN has reached out to an attorney for Leavy for comment.
Boston Children’s Hospital, which calls itself “home to the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in the United States,” has said it faced a “large volume” of threats of violence for offering such care.
Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care using a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender – the one they were designated at birth – to their affirmed gender – the gender by which they want to be known.
Major medical associations – including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – agree gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults.
Misinformation spread online has suggested Boston Children’s performed gender-affirming genital surgeries on young children. The hospital says it provides overall care to children who identify as transgender or nonbinary, but surgeries are performed only on consenting adults.
Rollins would not comment on a motive for the alleged bomb threat but said, “Generally, health care providers who support and offer care to gender-diverse and transgendered individuals deserve to do so without fear.”