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Rhode Island Man Charged With Threatening Mass. Professor Who Is Believed to Be Affiliated With Harvard

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A Rhode Island man was arrested Wednesday for sending dozens of graphic, threatening emails to a Harvard professor, according to court documents and local news reports.

A Federal Bureau of Investigations officer charged the man, Matthew Haviland, with one count of cyberstalking and one count of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, according to a complaint filed in Massachusetts District Court Tuesday. Haviland is currently in custody.

On the evening of March 10, Haviland allegedly sent approximately 28 emails threatening to rape, kill, and eat the unnamed professor, according to an affidavit filed by Chelsea Police Detective and FBI Task Force Officer Richard C. Laft, Jr. Several of the emails referenced the professor’s purported views on abortion, and Laft wrote that the professor’s public support of abortion and criticism of President Donald Trump motivated Haviland’s threats.

Haviland’s attorney, public defender Scott Lauer, declined to comment on the case.

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Multiple Boston broadcast news outlets reported Thursday that the person who received the threats is a Harvard faculty member, though the victim is identified only as a professor who works at a Massachusetts professional school in the court documents. A Harvard spokesperson declined to comment on the threats.

According to an affidavit, the professor told Laft they are “very concerned” about the threats.

“Victim 1 stated that he/she expects some hate mail and has a very high tolerance for it, but is very fearful for himself/herself and his/her family as a result of the March 10 emails,” Laft wrote.

Haviland also allegedly sent emails to the professor’s professional school, accusing it of racism against white people and decrying recent “debate or discussion within the [REDACTED] University admissions platform.” He wrote in one message that the school should be bombed, though he took back that assertion in the last of his 12 messages to the school.

Haviland appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, where Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal remanded him to the custody of United States Marshals. He will return to court Monday for a detention and probable cause hearing.

Elizabeth O. McCarthy, a spokesperson for the United States District Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts, declined to comment for this story.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mollmccaff.

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