A state board reinstated a sex offender’s chiropractic license last week for reasons that no one seemed able to explain nor understand, outside of the fact that he wanted to get back to touching strangers’ bodies again and the board agreed that this was a good idea.
Bryan Bajakian, who practiced in Paramus, went to prison after being convicted of two counts of luring children on the internet, having possession of child pornography, and possession of an illegal weapon. Everyone figured that adjudication would fit into the no-brainer category: The Board of Chiropractic Examiners would burn his license, and Bajakian would find a new line of work.
Instead, he is back in business — thanks to the board that had tossed him out of the health care industry just 11 years ago.
You may assert your right to be revolted by this, but the important thing is what happens next, and we applaud the rapid response from elected officials.
Gov. Murphy promptly put three board members on a bus — his first step toward a reboot — while legislative leaders have drafted a measure that eliminates sexual predators from the state’s health care industry entirely.
Under the bill, the board would be expanded to include more four public members instead of just one, so it looks more like an oversight panel of 11 members than a trade association with 5-7 people who rubber-stamp licenses.
More important, it prohibits licensure for anyone convicted of a felony sex offense.
Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) anticipates that it will be amended to include everyone else under the health care profession umbrella, such as physicians, nurses, dentists, physical therapists, etc.
He explains this zero-tolerance policy bluntly: “Licenses are a privilege, and you lose the privilege if you’re a sex offender,” said Vitale, who will co-sponsor the bill with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. “Especially if it involves medical treatment of the public.”
Indeed, it’s hard to understand why a Megan’s Law offender subject to lifetime supervision would be permitted to practice without the board assessing his guilt or explaining their unanimous vote, as revealed through reporting from Karin Price Mueller of NJ Advance Media.
Bajakian’s attorney, Douglas Anton, insists that his client is no predator, that it was all an elaborate misunderstanding, and that he was merely researching a book about protecting children from online predators when the Bergen County prosecutor railroaded him into a plea.
Of course, it’s difficult to explain why Bajakian’s “research” would include inviting a cop posing as a suicidal teenager for an “anal massage,” or sending nude photos of himself to another cop posing as a 15-year-old girl. The evidence of luring is unmistakable if you read the state filing: He is a predator.
Until the new board is seated and revisits Bajakian’s reinstatement, it is also important that our lawmakers set careful ground rules to avoid going too far, by creating a dragnet that pulls in plumbers or electricians.
Medical practitioners are unique. Theirs is literally a hands-on profession, and the public assumes a high level of confidence and trust. The standards of moral character demand that much, and a bill that makes it a statutory requirement is not an overreach.
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