Mount Holyoke College professor pleads not guilty to attack on colleague

  • Defendant Rie Hachiyanagi, right, with her attorney Tom Kokonowski in Franklin County Superior Court on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Defendant Rie Hachiyanagi is led into Franklin County Superior Court on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas, attorney Tom Kokonowski and defendant Rie Hachiyanagi in Franklin County Superior Court on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 11:28:54 AM

GREENFIELD — The Mount Holyoke College professor accused of using a rock, fire poker and garden shears to attack a colleague in the alleged victim’s home late last year pleaded not guilty to nine felony charges in Franklin County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.

Rie Hachiyanagi, 48, of South Hadley, appeared before Judge Mark D. Mason for arraignment on three counts of armed assault to murder a person age 60 or older, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person age 60 or older, and single counts of mayhem, home invasion and entering a dwelling at night for a felony. She was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on Feb. 19 to determine if she will be held without that right for an extended period of time.

Hachiyanagi had been arraigned in Orange District Court on Jan. 3, but the case was transferred to Superior Court because all the charges are felonies. She is represented by attorney Thomas Kokonowski. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas is prosecuting the case.

According to Leverett Police Chief Scott Minckler, the alleged incident happened overnight on Dec. 23. A 911 call from a residence on Leverett’s Long Hill Road prompted a response from State Police from the Northampton barracks and State Police assigned to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

A police report from Massachusetts State Trooper Geraldine L. Bresnahan states Crime Scene Services’ attending physician Dr. Michael Zhou “offered a preliminary opinion that (the victim) was presented with multiple broken bones in (her) nose and eye area, and numerous lacerations and puncture wounds on (her) head and face.” Zhou did not consider the injuries life-threatening.

Hachiyanagi is an art professor at Mount Holyoke College, where she has worked since 2004, according to her Mount Holyoke College web page, which states her specialization is installation, performance and papermaking.

Hachiyanagi “has been placed on administrative leave from the college and is not permitted on our campus pending further review of the incident. We will cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies in support of their ongoing investigations,” Mount Holyoke College spokesperson Christian Feuerstein previously said. “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.”

Authorities arrived at around 12:44 a.m. on Dec. 24, according to Trooper Bresnahan’s report. First responders were told Hachiyanagi called 911 at 12:12 a.m. to report finding her friend, the alleged victim, “barely breathing, semi-conscious and with a head injury” in “a pool of blood” at the victim’s residence. She also reported signs of a struggle inside the home and said she found an exterior door partially opened.

Bresnahan’s report states Hachiyanagi told police that blood had gotten onto her clothing because she had held her friend in her arms when she found her. No signs of a third party were found during a search of the residence.

According to Bresnahan’s report, the victim said Hachiyanagi caused her injuries. She said Hachiyanagi arrived at her home unannounced, stating she “wanted to talk about her feelings,” despite being in a long-term relationship with a man who was out of state visiting family at the time, Bresnahan’s report reads. After being invited inside, Hachiyanagi allegedly attacked the victim, striking her with multiple implements including “fists, rocks, garden clippers and a fire poker.” Investigators recovered all the items.

The alleged victim told authorities she thought Hachiyanagi was going to kill her. According to the report, when the victim asked why Hachiyanagi was attacking her, the assailant allegedly “that she loved her for many years and (she) should have known.”

Bresnahan’s report states the victim persuaded Hachiyanagi to stop the attack and call 911 by “playing along” and lying that she had reciprocating feelings. The victim did not want to tell authorities the identity of her assailant until she was taken from the scene, later saying she feared Hachiyanagi would further harm her or burn down her home.

Police arrested Hachiyanagi at the Leverett residence at approximately 7 p.m. on Dec. 24. The alleged victim’s keys, cellphone and glasses were found in her possession.

A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for June 3.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262. Reporters Zack DeLuca and David McLellan contributed to this report.




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