A California woman pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime for threatening to bomb a Catholic high school in Washington, D.C., the Department of Justice announced Monday.
Sonia Tabizada, 36, pleaded guilty to obstructing religious exercise by threat of force by making threats in May 2019 to Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, the oldest Catholic girls school in the country, after it announced it would begin publishing same-sex wedding announcements in its alumni magazine, according to court documents.
Tabizada has no known connections to the school and may have learned about the wedding announcements through news reports. The Southern California resident made multiple threatening phone calls to the school, including leaving voicemails stating that she would burn and bomb the church, kill school officials and students and commit “terrorism,” according to court documents.
“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 Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in the 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.”
Tabizada’s attorney, Carmen D. Hernandez, did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Tabizada will be sentenced March 23 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.