Watch: Woman Pleads Guilty to Terroristic Threats Against Catholic School Over its LGBTQ Acceptance

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday January 8, 2021

A woman who threatened a Catholic girls' school with bombing, murder, and, in her own words, "terrorism," because of an LGBTQ-inclusive policy faces hate crimes charges... and they are based in religious liberty protections.

"Sonia Tabizada, 36, pleaded guilty to obstructing religious exercise by threat of force," NBC News reported.

Tabizada twice phoned in threats from California, leaving voice mail messages in which she threatened to bomb the Washington, D.C,. area school and assassinate its students and staff, reported local news channel NBC Washington.

Court documents said that Tabizada also declared that she would visit "terrorism" on Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, which NBC News noted is "the oldest Catholic girls school in the country".

The suspect made the threats in May, 2019, following an announcement that that the school "would begin publishing same-sex wedding announcements in its alumni magazine," the NBC article added.

Tabizada made the threats even though she is not a graduate of the school herself and "has no known connections" to Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

The hate crime charges are rooted not in the apparent anti-LGBTQ motivation behind the threats, but rather in the suspect's implicit attack on the school's religious liberties.

"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," explained Eric Dreiband, of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, in a Jan. 4 statement.

Dreiband added: "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 will appear in court March 23 for sentencing. She could receive up to 20 years, media sources reported.

Watch the NBC Washington news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.