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Acupuncturist accused of rape

July 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Walnut Park acupuncturist allegedly sexually assaulted clients, then threatened to reveal immigration status if victims reported him.Detectives say Heon Lee used his acupuncture business in unincorporated Los Angeles County to, in part, lure female patients and sexually assault them.

"One of the patients came forward and filed an initial crime report. And from there, we went forward and interviewed her and were able to contact several more victims," said Detective Frank Heredia, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "All victims were female Hispanics, Spanish-speaking only."

Investigators say in 2008, from January to July, Lee allegedly sexually assaulted nearly a dozen women. They say no weapons or drugs were used in the assaults. Investigators add that the women did not put up a fight.

"He fondled them ... Actually raped one of the victims," said Detective Heredia.

Authorities say the suspect was able to intimidate and scare the women into complying with his advances.

"These people were scared, initially, to react ... to do anything ... one, because they felt they were in the States illegally and had no rights," said Detective Heredia. "I do have two victims that he did ... He told them that. He said, 'If you do say anything, I will report to the immigration department.' And that was one of the concerns why they didn't want to come forward. Nobody has a right to take advantage of people, regardless of their legal status."

Authorities say Heon Lee has operated his business for three years. They believe there may be many other victims and they don't want anyone to fear coming forward.

"Come forward. This is my case. I'm not asking for any legal identification or forms in order to be taking a report, a crime report. If a crime occurred, a report will be taken regardless of your legal status," said Detective Heredia.

Lee is in custody held on $1 million bail.

 

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