Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a directive ordering the state’s professional licensing boards and committees to adopt new policies meant to reduce sexual misconduct carried out by licensees.
The directive calls on the Division of Consumer Affairs to work with professional to create new licensing questions that will clearly require the disclosure of sexual misconduct-related allegations or discipline and work with professional schools and training programs to include sexual misconduct-related topics.
The Division intends to draft continuing education programs covering best practices related to sexual misconduct and bystander intervention, among other things.
“We are cracking down on sexual misconduct across this state, and that includes misconduct by licensed professionals,” Grewal said. “As more victims of sexual assault and harassment have found the courage in recent years to report their offenders and share their stories, we have learned more about the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct by professional licensees, and we are taking action to combat it.”
The new rules, once adopted, would also encourage licensees to report violators, press investigators to assess whether other professionals were aware of the abuses and failed to report them and bar the disclosure of victims’ information.
It’ll also draft resources to make it easier for victims to report sexual misconduct and create new positions for liaisons between victims and boards.
“Sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable in any workplace, but it is especially reprehensible when it happens behind the closed doors of doctors’ offices, massage therapy rooms, and other places where licensed professionals exploit the vulnerability of patients and clients who trust them,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
The reforms come after the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners voted to reinstate the license of Bryan Bajakian, who was convicted in 2008 on charges of luring and enticing underage girls and illegally possessing a firearm.
He was accused sexual misconduct against an underage patient and admitted to the board keeping child pornography, attempting to meet children online and continuing to see underage patients after an order to cease.
Grewal sought to block the reinstatement, arguing the board relied on an improperly conducted psychosexual evaluation, but the board pressed on anyway, causing an outcry from Murphy and lawmakers.
All six of the board’s members resigned last month, days after Murphy announced three new nominations and as legislators weighed dissolving and reforming the board, a move that would also vacate all of its seats.