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Rhode Island Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Prof. Believed to Be Affiliated With Harvard

University Hall
University Hall By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Michelle G. Kurilla and Molly C. McCafferty, Crimson Staff Writers

A Rhode Island man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to sending dozens of graphic, threatening emails to a Massachusetts professor reportedly affiliated with Harvard, according to court documents and local news reports.

The man — 29-year-old Matthew Haviland of North Kingston, R.I. — also sent threats to a school in Massachusetts reported to be one of Harvard’s professional schools.

Haviland pleaded guilty to one count of stalking and two counts of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $250,000 plus additional restitution.

Public defender Scott Lauer, who represents Haviland, declined to comment on the plea.

On March 10, 2019, Haviland sent approximately 28 emails to the Massachusetts professor over the span of several hours threatening to rape, kill, and eat the unnamed professor, according to an affavidt filed by the Chelsea Police Detective and FBI Task Force Officer Richard C. Laft, Jr. Laft wrote in the affidavit that the professor’s support of abortion rights and criticism of President Donald Trump motivated the threats.

On March 15, Haviland sent threatening emails to the professional school. He accused the school of racism against white people and decried recent “debate or discussion within the [REDACTED] University admissions platform.” In one of his 12 messages targeting the school, he wrote that the school should be bombed, though he took the assertion back soon afterwards.

Since Haviland was first arrested on April 24, multiple Boston news outlets have reported that the person who received the threats is a Harvard faculty member, though the victim is only identified in court documents as a professor who works at a Massachusetts university. A Havard spokesperson declined to comment on the threats’ alleged connection to the University.

The United States District Attorney for the District of Massachusetts will recommend a sentence of 21 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine as part of a plea agreement reached in late August, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

DOJ spokesperson Elizabeth McCarthy declined to comment on the case.

Haviland is currently in custody. U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin has scheduled his sentencing for Dec. 10 at John J. Moakley United States Courthouse.

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

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

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