A California woman has pleaded guilty to threatening to bomb a prep school in Washington, DC, after the school announced that it would begin publishing same-sex wedding photos in their Alumnae Magazine.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on January 4 that 36-year-old Sonia Tabizada pleaded guilty to intentionally obstructing Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School’s right to exercise their religious beliefs.
In 2019, school officials announced that the all-girls school — which includes students in grades nine through 12 — would begin including photos of same-sex couples in their school’s magazine in an effort to send a clear message of support to the LGBTQ community.
“We are all children of God … worthy of respect and love,” school officials wrote in a letter, according to the DOJ.
While it’s unclear how Tabizada learned about this announcement, she soon launched several violent homophobic threats, according to prosecutors. The DOJ also said she called the school multiple times and eventually left a voice message stating that she was going to burn and bomb the institution.
Tabizada also threatened to kill school officials and students, prosecutors said. In a second voice mail, Tabizada stated that she was going to blow up the school and warned that she would commit “terrorism,” according to court documents.
Tabizada is also facing hate crime charges for allegedly threatening a religious institution.
“The defendant made violent threats against high school students, religious leaders, and school officials based solely on her disagreement with a private school’s application of religious doctrine,” Eric Drieband, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, noted in a written statement. “Tolerance and religious freedom are cornerstone values in our society and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute violent threats motivated by bias.”
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Kendra Briggs of the District of Columbia and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.
Tabizada will be sentenced at a hearing scheduled for March 23. She is facing up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
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