TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey lawmakers are outraged after a man who is a convicted sex offender in the state of Florida had his license to practice as a chiropractor in the Garden State reinstated.
Bryan Bajakian, who practiced out of Mahwah, had his license reinstated recently by the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Bajakian is a registered sex offender in both New Jersey and Florida, having spent two stints in jail for multiple counts of luring or enticing a child as well as unlawful possession of a firearm. He was released from a New Jersey correctional facility on Feb. 9, 2017 and is on lifetime parole and is not allowed to to see patients under the age of 18 unsupervised.
New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was disappointed by the decision.
“The Attorney General’s Office is committed to rooting out sexual misconduct in all its forms, and has continuously called on the state’s professional licensing boards to take seriously their obligation to protect members of the public from sexual misconduct by licensees,” an office of the attorney general spokesperson told PIX11 News in a statement. “In light of the egregious facts of this case, we are disappointed that the Board of Chiropractic Examiners has allowed Bryan Bajakian to resume practice, and are reviewing the board’s decision.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was questioned about the issue during his Friday coronavirus briefing and agreed with Grewal.
“The attorney general is completely right on this,” Murphy said. “It is unacceptable and the folks who voted to reinstate this guy should hear this loud and clear. We will be looking very carefully and very soon at the makeup of that board.”
New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, two of the state’s most powerful Democrat legislators, introduced a bill to prohibit registered sex offenders from working as chiropractors in New Jersey in response to the board’s decision. The bill would also remove the current board members; Sweeney and Weinberg said the board is dominated by chiropractors and they’d like to reconstitute it to include more public representation.
“This board has clearly lost sight of its responsibility to protect the health and safety of the people of New Jersey,” said Sen. Sweeney. “Giving a convicted sex offender the sanctioned permission to return to the practice is irresponsible and illogical. 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,” added Sen. Weinberg. “By reinstating the chiropractic license of Bryan Bajakian, the board has placed others, including the most vulnerable, in harm’s way.”
Bajakian’s lawyer, Douglas Anton, has yet to respond to PIX11 News’ request for comment but posted to Instagram on Thursday regarding the case, calling the decision to reinstate Bajakian “a great day for truth and justice to prevail. So proud of the ‘LAW’ today.”
There’s bipartisan agreement that Bajakian should not have been reinstated in Trenton, as Sen. Joe Vitale, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and Sen. Robert Singer, the ranking Republican member of the committee, issued a joint statement condemning Bajakian’s reinstatement.
“This is a decision that defies common sense and ignores the safety of the public the board is responsible for protecting,” they said. “Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to reinstate the license of a convicted sex offender who preyed on children can’t be trusted to exercise their oversight responsibilities, or to even to heed their own mission statement directing the board to ‘protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of New Jersey. Bryan Bajakian is a predator who should not be placed in a position of trust with patients in healthcare settings that make them vulnerable, especially children.”
Vitale and Singer said restructuring the board, as Sweeney and Weinberg’s bill would do, is under consideration.