Ex-UCLA lecturer accused of making threats pleads not guilty

Two people walk through a pathway flanked by lawns and near signs that read "UCLA Go Bruins!"
Two people walk through a near-empty campus on Feb. 1, 2022, after UCLA canceled in-person classes after a former lecturer and postdoctoral fellow sent a video referencing a mass shooting and an 800-page manifesto with “specific threats” to members of the university’s philosophy department.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty in Denver on Wednesday to allegations that he sent emails and posted videos threatening violence against the school.

One of Matthew Harris’ lawyers, Ed Robinson, entered the plea during a brief hearing in federal court a day after a grand jury indicted Harris for the alleged threats, as well as weapons violations. Harris, who was arrested in Colorado, wore a surgical mask and jail uniform as he sat at a table with his two lawyers but was not asked to speak.

Harris’ lawyers did not argue against prosecutors’ request that he continue to be held behind bars.


Harris, 31, is accused of sending emails with an 800-page document and links to videos to people at UCLA. On Feb. 1, UCLA canceled classroom instruction as a precaution and Harris was arrested in Boulder, Colo., where he had been living in an apartment across the street from the University of Colorado.

The indictment alleges Harris also lied about never having been committed to a mental institution as he sought to buy a handgun and possess ammunition. According to court documents, Harris’ mother told authorities he was diagnosed with schizophrenia last year and she had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution after he allegedly threatened her in April.

Both of Harris’ new private attorneys, Robinson and Nancy Kardon, said they could not comment on the allegations so early in the case.

Harris had lectured in UCLA’s philosophy department until being placed on “investigatory leave” in March 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 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.