Outrage after ‘child sex predator’ gets back his NJ chiropractor license
After ignoring a request from state prosecutors and allowing a convicted sex offender to return to work as a chiropractor, the state chiropractic board could find itself dissolved under proposed legislation.
Bryan Bajakian, who currently has an office listed in Hackensack, was convicted of second-degree child luring, sentenced to five years in prison and ordered not to see patients younger than 18 without supervision, which state authorities previously have said he violated repeatedly. He also is a registered sex offender in Florida, where he is on lifetime parole.
In 2008, Bajakian stopped practicing in Ringwood as he faced charges of contacting at least six girls to engage in various sex acts with him, according to a complaint filed by state authorities, which noted Bajakian also had an extensive collection of child pornography on his home computer.
The same complaint — filed more than 12 years ago — said that Bajakian was an “exploitative sexual predator” with “monumentally poor judgment.”
As of Monday, Bajakian was once again an actively licensed chiropractor.
The Board of Chiropractors reinstated Bajakian’s chiropractic license in November, prompting a motion by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to deny the request.
On Thursday, the board rejected it.
In response, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said they are taking action to eliminate and replace the current board with one that makes public safety a priority, while also barring convicted sex offenders from working as chiropractors.
“This board has clearly lost sight of its responsibility to protect the health and safety of the people of New Jersey,” Sweeney said in a written statement. “Bryan Bajakian is a predator who should be denied the opportunity to threaten anyone again.”
“The idea that the state board representing practicing chiropractors could vote unanimously to reinstate the license of a convicted sex offender is a horrific and dangerous move that defies all logic, and is a slap in the face to people everywhere who have faced the trauma of sexual misconduct,” Weinberg said in the same joint statement.
Gov. Phil Murphy also called the board’s action “reprehensible” when asked about the issue on Friday.
“All options are on the table, period. I find their action to be repulsive and totally and utterly unacceptable. The attorney general was completely right about this and we will take action. I don't know what it will be. But we will take action,” Murphy added, in a follow up question on the same matter.
While chiropractors are overseen by their own state board, convicted sex offenders returning to treat patients in other medical fields has been an ongoing issue for the State Board of Medical Examiners.
The state Board of Chiropractic Examiners has three vacancies on an 11-spot roster, with six chiropractors and one public member currently making decisions and a seventh chiropractor who had not yet been sworn in since his confirmation by the Senate on Feb. 19, according to the Division of Consumer Affairs.
Of current board members also listed online with the Division of Consumer Affairs, seven are men and one is a woman.
Vacant spots under the existing board makeup include another public member and a state official, as well as one more chiropractor.
The legislation pitched by Sweeney and Weinberg would remove the current board members and reconfigure the board to include more public representation.
The proposed legislation would also specifically ban anyone convicted of a felony sexual offense from being licensed to work as a chiropractor.
“We need to restructure the board to include more public members who have the public’s interests at heart and fewer self-interested members from the chiropractic industry. We have to bring more transparency and accountability to restore public trust,” Sweeney said.
Two other Senate leaders also issued a joint bipartisan statement slamming the board's move to reinstate Bajakian's license.
“This is a decision that defies common sense and ignores the safety of the public the board is responsible for protecting," Sens. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Robert Singer, R-Ocean, said in their shared written reaction, calling Bajakian a predator.
“Denying him a license should be automatic, as it is in other states," they said.