Calling the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ action both “irresponsible and illogical,” New Jersey State Senators worked to eliminate and replace the current board with one that would focus on public safety.
The action was taken after the board relicensed a child sex offender, with Senators saying it would need more public representation. Currently, the board features eight chiropractors, two members of the public, and one state official as members.
The reinstatement was taken in defiance of a motion set forth by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal to deny the request.
“There is no way a sexual predator should also be a licensed chiropractor in New Jersey. If the board is going to reinstate this license, what, one might fairly ask will it take for a chiropractic license to be revoked?” asked Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), who co-sponsored the legislation alongside Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3).
The board reinstated Bryan Bajakian, a registered sex offender in Florida who is on lifetime parole.
Bajakian was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct toward an underage patients, and the board found he had tried to meet children on the internet for sex and kept child pornography. He was was convicted of luring and firearms charges, and was ordered not to see patients younger than 18 without supervision.
“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,” said Sweeney.
“Attorney General Grewal had it right the first time—there is no way a sexual predator should also be a licensed chiropractor in New Jersey,” Weinberg added.
Gov. Murphy Backs Grewal
Gov. Phil Murphy backed Attorney General Grewal’s original view on the topic, saying the move by the board was unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable and 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,” Murphy stated.
When pressed on looking for resignations from those board members that voted in the affirmative, Murphy said all options were on the table.
“The Attorney General was completely right about this and we will take action,” he said.
New Board Appointments
The first action taken by Murphy included the appointment of three new members to board—Dr. Kelly Blundy, Dr. Uchenna Abba Onyeani and Dr. Michael Kaufman..
The current board has only seven of 11 seats filled—six chiropractors and one public member — and all were held over from previous administrations. When a board member’s term ends, they often serve as “holdovers” unless a new person is appointed to the position.
“The board’s recent decision to reinstate the license of a convicted sex offender was shocking and offensive,” Murphy said in a statement announcing the new appointees. “We must begin the work of reforming this board now.”