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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Rhode Island Man Sentenced for Threatening Massachusetts Professor

BOSTON – A Rhode Island man was sentenced today for sending a series of violent and threatening e‑mails to a Massachusetts professor and a university.

Matthew Haviland, 30, of North Kingstown, R.I., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to 21 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In September 2019, Haviland pleaded guilty to one count of stalking and two counts of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. Haviland was charged in April 2019.    

“The Constitution protects everyone’s right to free speech, but there is a hard line between free speech and the stalking and harassment committed in this case. My office will enforce that line,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.  “Today’s sentence affirms that these are serious crimes that warrant punishment.”

“Today’s sentence cannot atone for the fear that Matthew Haviland caused, and the sense of security his victims lost, but it does hold him accountable for sending dozens of rage-filled emails threatening horrific acts of violence,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The FBI will vigorously protect every individual’s constitutional right to free speech but we will not allow anyone to hide behind the internet and put others in fear for their lives.”

Over the span of several hours on March 10, 2019, Haviland sent a Massachusetts professor a string of approximately 28 e-mails containing messages that included such threats as, “I will rip every limb from your body and eat it, piece by piece,” “I will bite through your eyeballs while you’re still alive, and I will laugh while you scream,” and  “I will torture you relentlessly until the end of time … [and] feed your body to pigs again and again….”  The professor to whom Haviland sent the threats has published and spoken in favor of abortion rights, and several of Haviland’s e‑mails made reference to abortion. In two successive e-mails, for example, Haviland wrote, “You will be held accountable for every f****** baby you murdered through your horrible deception of they are not humans” and “You will have your face ripped off and eaten by me, personally. I will enjoy raping your body after you’re dead. And that will only be the start.”

Haviland also sent several e-mails on March 15, 2019 to a professional school at the professor’s university. Those e-mails included the message: “You people are Evil, putrid, and somebody shoudl [sic] BOMB your school for spreading the idea that it’s okay to HATE people because of their race.” A later e-mail to the professional school said only, “You should be Murdered in cold blood.”

United States Attorney Lelling and Boston FBI SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Boston FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Warwick and North Kingstown (RI) Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney William F. Bloomer of Lelling’s National Security Unit prosecuted the case.

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Updated August 5, 2020