A judge has reprimanded a disgraced Dunedin healer who stood in court smirking and shaking his head as he was sentenced for sexually assaulting seven female clients.
Sonny Hang Chin, 65, a once respected “spiritual healer”, was found guilty on 10 charges of indecent assault following a jury trial at the Dunedin District Court in March.
As Judge David Robinson addressed Chin at sentencing yesterday, he stood smirking, shaking his head.
“I saw you shake your head.
“I do not detect remorse,” Judge Robinson said.
One of Chin’s victims said “greed and manipulation” were what led to his demise.
“I hope one day you surrender to the fact you are not who you think you are,” another victim said.
“You are a disgrace to spirituality.”
Women who needed therapeutic help became victims of sexual assault — some being diagnosed with PTSD since their sessions with the self-proclaimed “body technician”.
His pattern of offending included questioning women about their sexual history and telling victims they had repressed experiences of sexual abuse as he molested them.
“Your way of treating sexual trauma was to put your hands down the pants of the traumatised person,” the judge said.
“You have a pattern of eliciting vulnerabilities and exploiting them.”'
Four of the victims provided statements to the court, with one woman sharing the guilt she felt about not coming forward sooner.
Her story detailed the “totally callous and inhumane” treatment she received.
“For you to brazenly sexually assault a grieving mother is absolutely vile and unforgivable.”
Instead of being healed, the woman described the session with Chin as “pouring salt into a wound that could never be healed”.
Chin molested the patients over 13 years and the conduct continued even after police had warned him in 2016.
When Detective Wayne O’Connell interviewed Chin about the two initial complaints, the healer denied any sexual touching but accepted his work had perhaps not been “best practice”.
“I’m not there to be a sexual pervert. I’m not like that in my work. My work is strictly professional,” he said.
Three more women approached police after sessions with Chin in 2019.
As a result, he was again interviewed by police in February 2020, dominating an hour-long conversation with explanations about his qigong techniques.
He claimed he had to act quickly with that patient, who was being overwhelmed by her trauma, and had received consent to touch her breasts.
“She was triggered, she was sinking and I had to save her ... otherwise they stay in a semi-zombie state,” Chin told police.
The victim spoke out in court, detailing how her life had been derailed by the assault and the PTSD she suffered.
She called Chin a misogynist and a “sick man” who could not accept the happiness of his female patients.
“You have a distorted vision that women and girls need to be saved by you,” she said.
“You are the one who needs help.”
During the trial, the court also heard from a woman who sought treatment for back pain from the defendant in 2016.
She said Chin was working on her sternum when he struck.
“Towards the end of it when he was doing that he pulled my bra down and bit my nipple. I just lay there thinking ‘What the hell was that?’,” the victim said.
Counsel Anne Stevens argued her client should receive credit for his previous good character, saying “it would be a matter of great pain if Mr Chin was not to receive credit for the work he has done that is of great benefit”.
Judge Robinson called it a “double-edged sword”, as his previous good character was what led patients to believe he was trustworthy.
He said Chin’s offending was inexplicable and his desire to keep practising massage therapy despite being found guilty was an indication he may offend again.
Chin was sentenced to three years and three months’ imprisonment. — Additional reporting Rob Kidd.