Art Professor Accused of Violent Assault on Colleague

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RAFU WIRE SERVICES

LEVERETT, Mass. – A college professor in Massachusetts is facing charges after allegedly assaulting a colleague with a fire poker, garden shears and a rock.

Rie Hachiyanagi

Rie Hachiyanagi, 48, was arraigned on charges Jan. 3 in connection with the assault that took place at the victim’s Leverett home on Dec. 23, according to the Northwestern District Attorney.

According to the criminal complaint, Hachiyanagi showed up to the victim’s home unannounced at about 10 p.m. and began to strike her in the back of the head with “something hard.” During the attack, Hachiyanagi reportedly professed her love for the victim and said she “should have known,” the report says.

In order to stop the assault, the victim told authorities that she lied, said she loved Hachiyanagi back and convinced her to call 911, according to the report.

When authorities responded to the home, they say they found Hachiyanagi and the victim lying together on the floor. Fearing retaliation, the victim reportedly didn’t name Hachiyanagi as the assailant right away, but later did from the safety of the hospital.

The victim suffered severe injuries during the attack, but prosecutors say she is expected to survive. She told police that she’d been friendly with Hachiyanagi for about 14 years, but never on a romantic level.

Hachiyanagi was later arrested on multiple charges, including one count of armed assault to murder a person over 60, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, one count of mayhem, and one count of armed assault in a dwelling. Prosecutors say she’s being held in the Franklin County House of Correction without bail until her next hearing on Feb. 4.

In the District Attorney’s report, Hachiyanagi told police that she didn’t remember anything after 6 p.m. on the day of the incident and has a medical condition that includes multiple concussions that affect her memory.

She said she’d held her friend after discovering her on the floor in a pool of blood, which explained the blood on her clothing, according to the report.

According to her biography on the Mount Holyoke website, Hachiyanagi first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student in rural Kansas from Sapporo, Japan. Her initial inability to effectively communicate in English led her to engage in artistic forms of expression.

Mount Holyoke College have officials acknowledged that “a serious incident” between two faculty members took place over the winter break and that the one was in custody. That faculty member has been placed on administrative leave and is barred from campus pending a review.

“We take very seriously the safety and well-being of every member of our community, and the College is providing support to impacted parties as appropriate,” the college’s statement said.

Hachiyanagi is an installation and performance artist who works with handmade paper and chairs the art studio at the Mount Holyoke Department of Art, according to biographies on the college’s website. Born in Japan, her work focuses on how visual and textual languages interact.

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