A former Chinese traditional medicine practitioner, Hongbin Liu, who was jailed for raping and sexually assaulting patients in the UK, has been arrested in Dublin for failing to register as a sex offender under his true name. Liu, who now goes by the name Harry Liu, was sentenced to seven years in the UK in 2016 for the attacks, which took place at two separate Chinese health centres in London. Liu pleaded guilty to the charges and was placed on the sex offenders register. He was also banned from working as a therapist. However, he recently found employment at an acupuncture centre in Dublin city centre, where he worked under the name Harry Liu. When gardaí discovered his true identity, Liu was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender in Ireland.
Liu, who has lived in exile since 1989, has consistently maintained his innocence in relation to the UK charges. Despite pleading guilty to multiple sexual offences in the UK, Liu said yesterday that he did not commit any crimes and was unhappy with how he was treated by gardaí while in custody. Liu claimed that he frequently urinated in his trousers while handcuffed when gardaí took him to hospital. He also said he was not aware that he was required to notify gardaí of his registration as a sex offender in Ireland. Liu pleaded guilty to failing to notify gardaí of his details under the Sex Offenders Act and was given the Probation Act. He has since returned to the UK.
Liu’s colleague at the Dublin acupuncture centre said this week that they were unaware of Liu’s history when they hired him and he did not inform them he had raped and sexually assaulted patients. She said he had been working at the centre for around three weeks and was popular with customers before gardaí arrived at the business at the end of last month to arrest him. Customers did not make any complaints about him while he was working there in recent weeks. Most customers were treated by him and most people found he was good. They said he balanced their emotions, was good for treatment, and was good talking, very nice.
Police first launched an investigation into Liu in the UK in February 2015 after a woman was raped by him at the Chinese Traditional Medicine Centre in Haverstock Hill in Camden, north London. When the woman arrived, her usual therapist wasn’t working, so she agreed to see Liu for an acupuncture and massage consultation. Liu then raped and assaulted her. The following month, two more women came forward to say they had been sexually assaulted by him at the Shu Jun Healthcare Centre on Wells Street, in Westminster. One of his victims told police officers that while Liu was giving her a massage she believed he took a picture of her with his phone, but police were unable to recover the photos.
Liu, who has lived in the UK in exile from China since 1989, is originally from the city of Qingdao in China. He said his father had been arrested and executed during the Cultural Revolution. Liu later became a poet critical of the government and said he was forced to leave China after posting poems around Tiananmen Square around the time of the student-led protests which led to the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre. He returned to China in 1997 but was arrested and expelled.
Liu’s case highlights the importance of employers conducting thorough background checks on prospective employees, particularly those in positions of trust, such as healthcare practitioners. It is also a reminder of the need for sex offenders to register their details in any country in which they reside. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment.
While Liu has been given the Probation Act for his failure to register as a sex offender in Ireland, he remains a convicted rapist and sexual offender. His claims of innocence in relation to the UK charges are at odds with his guilty pleas. His victims’ statements paint a picture of a man who preyed on vulnerable patients who trusted him to heal them. Liu’s actions have caused lasting harm to his victims and their families. It is a reminder that the consequences of sexual assault are far-reaching and long-lasting.