A Texas man was arrested Friday on federal charges of leaving a voicemail threatening to kill a Boston doctor who treats gender nonconforming children, authorities said.
The man, Matthew Jordan Lindner, 38, of Comfort, Texas, has been charged with one count of transmitting interstate threats, according to the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office. He is being held without bond pending a court hearing next week. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and three years of probation and a fine of up to $250,000.
Efforts to reach a lawyer for Mr. Lindner late Friday were unsuccessful.
According to federal prosecutors, false reports began spreading online in August that doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital were offering hysterectomies and gender-affirming surgeries to patients under the age of 18. The hospital does not perform these procedures on minors, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors allege that on August 31, Mr. Lindner called the Boston-based National Center for LGBTQIA+ Health Education and left the threatening voicemail with one of the center’s doctors.
Repeatedly using profanity, Mr Lindner said in the message, “you’re all going to burn”, according to prosecutors, adding that there was “a group of people about to deal with” the doctor. “You signed your own warrant,” Mr Lindner reportedly said, again naming the doctor. “Castrate our children. You’ve woken up enough people. And upset enough of us. And you signed your own ticket.
Mr. Lindner also called two phone numbers associated with a Rhode Island university where the doctor is a faculty member and called a medical office where the doctor had previously worked, prosecutors said in the criminal complaint.
The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, part of the Fenway Institute, provides educational programs and health care to queer and transgender communities. The center did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The doctor who received the threat has not been publicly named. Prosecutors said she defended gender-affirming care and the use of hormones and puberty blockers.
Prosecutors said phone records were used to identify Mr. Lindner. They also said they matched the voice of the call threatening the doctor with that of the videos Mr Lindner had previously posted on Facebook.
Rachael S. Rollins, the US attorney from Massachusetts, said in a statement that she is committed to “vigorously” investigating and prosecuting those who threaten members of the LGBTQ community, including medical professionals. .
“Death threats instill fear and terror in their target audiences,” Ms Rollins said. “Mr. Lindner’s alleged conduct – a death threat – is based on lies and amounts to an act of workplace violence.
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a statement that the doctor was targeted because she cared for gender-nonconforming children.
“No one,” he said, “should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, what kind of work they do, where they are from or what they believe”.