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Judge sentences former Mount Holyoke professor to 10 to 12 years in prison for attack on colleague

A Western Massachusetts judge sentenced a 50-year-old former Mount Holyoke College art professor to 10 to 12 years in prison for a horrific attack on a fellow professor over a four-hour period in 2019, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Rie Hachiyanagi was sentenced by Judge Francis Flannery in Franklin Superior Court after pleading guilty Friday to nine charges in the attack on Lauret Savoy, who remains a professor at the college.

Prosecutors said that, while the college was on winter break in December 2019, Hachiyanagi knocked on the door late at night at Savoy’s Leverett home, claiming to be in need of emotional support over a breakup. After entering, Hachiyanagi attacked Savoy with a rock, a fire poker, and pruning shears, while taunting her in “a four-hour torture session” until Savoy managed to convince Hachiyanagi to summon help.

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Savoy was left with long-lasting emotional trauma and severe physical trauma, some of which is permanent, Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan’s office said in a statement.

Hachiyanagi was convicted of three counts of armed assault with intent to murder a person over 60; three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over 60; and one count each of home invasion, mayhem, and breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony, the statement said.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas had asked for a sentence of 10 to 12 years. Defense attorney Thomas Kokonowski recommended five to seven years. Judge Flannery said he’d been tempted to impose a sentence even more severe than the one recommended by Thomas, which the judge called “restrained,” the statement said.

Flannery said he still didn’t seen “an adequate explanation for what happened” and called it “one of the most horrific set of facts I’ve heard,” according to the prosecutors’ statement.

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He also praised Savoy. “Professor Savoy is certainly a victim of a horrific crime, but that’s not what I’m going to remember,” he said, according to the statement. “I’m going to remember that she had the presence of mind and the courage to convince her attacker not to kill her. As her body was failing her, she used her mind to save herself. That’s remarkable.”

Mount Holyoke said in a statement, “Rie Hachiyanagi is no longer employed by Mount Holyoke College. Our hope is that the recent proceedings help bring some measure of justice to the faculty member who survived this crime, as well as some closure for her and our community.”


Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.