Ex-UCLA lecturer accused of threats ruled mentally unfit
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles accused of threatening students and staff was found mentally unfit to stand trial last week by a federal judge in Denver.
U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore wrote in a Jan. 27 court filing that lawyers for Matthew Harris filed a motion last October “for determination of defendant’s competency to stand trial,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
An exam by a forensic psychiatrist found Harris is “presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him incompetent to proceed” with his defense, the judge wrote.
Harris had pleaded not guilty last February to allegations that he sent emails and posted videos threatening violence against UCLA. He is accused of sending emails with an 800-page document and links to videos to people at the university.
UCLA canceled classroom instruction on Feb. 1, 2022 as a precaution and Harris was arrested in Boulder, Colorado, where he had been living.
Harris’ mother told authorities he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and she had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution after he allegedly threatened her, according to court documents.
Harris had lectured in UCLA’s philosophy department until being put on “investigatory leave” in March 2021 after allegedly sending pornographic and violent content to his students.
Harris previously studied at Duke and Cornell universities. A trail of red flags about his behavior toward women followed him throughout his academic journey to UCLA. In online class reviews, interviews and emails obtained last year by The Associated Press, current and former students at all three universities alleged negligence by the schools for letting Harris slide, despite his concerning conduct.
Harris will be hospitalized and treated for mental illness to allow experts to determine whether his mental condition might improve enough for him to stand trial in the future, the Times reported.
The judge ordered a written report on Harris’ mental condition by May 27.