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Acupuncturist charged with raping patient

Albuquerque Police Department detectives have signed an arrest warrant for 69-year-old Megumi Hirayama, who runs A Zen Japanese Acupuncture on Montgomery near Jefferson NE. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Detectives have arrested an Albuquerque acupuncturist suspected of raping one of his patients during a treatment session.

Megumi Hirayama, the owner of Zen Japanese Acupuncture on Montgomery near Jefferson NE, was arrested Thursday morning.

The 69-year-old turned himself in to police at his attorney’s office. He declined to say anything to reporters as officers escorted him to the prisoner transport center to be booked into the county jail.

Hirayama’s attorney also declined to comment.

Officer Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said now that detectives have arrested the acupuncturist, they are looking for any other possible victims.

“That’s the point of getting his name out there, his picture out there, and his practice,” Drobik said. “We don’t want any victims to be there, but if there are any, we want them to come forward.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court, a woman told police in August that she had been seeing Hirayama for heel pain. She said he had been professional during her first two sessions.

However, the woman said, that changed during an appointment in mid-August.

The woman said that appointment began shortly after she saw Hirayama’s receptionist leaving for a lunch break. She said she told Hirayama about the recent death of her son and he offered to provide her with “grief therapy.”

Hirayama performed the treatment on the woman, placing needles in her feet and her head, and making her feel “more relaxed in that moment than she had been in a long time,” an officer wrote in the affidavit.

She said that, during the treatment, Hirayama began massaging her and at first she did not think there was cause for alarm.

Then, she said, he digitally penetrated her, according to the affidavit.

The woman said he stopped when he heard his receptionist return from lunch.

The woman called police the next day and cried several times during the interview with detectives. She told them she had become paranoid since the rape, and she appeared to be severely traumatized, according to the detectives.

The detectives collected the underwear the woman had been wearing during the session, and Hirayama agreed to provide them with a DNA sample. Although he was initially willing to make a statement, his attorney later told detectives he would not be interviewed, according to the affidavit. He denied touching the woman inappropriately.

In early January, the tests were completed at the crime lab, and Hirayama’s DNA was found on the woman’s underwear, according to the affidavit.

A message left at Hirayama’s business was not returned.

According to his website, he was born in Mito, Japan, and began to study acupuncture informally in 1973.

“In 1994, he attended the Southwest Acupuncture College in New Mexico, where he received extensive training in all aspects of traditional Oriental Medicine and herbology, and earned the degree of Doctor of Oriental Medicine,” the website says. “He is nationally board certified and fully licensed in the State of New Mexico.”