Chiropractor Convicted Of Sexually Assaulting Female Patients, Some Underage, Now Missing (PHOTO)
(BANT) – A Santa Rosa chiropractor was convicted Thursday of sexual misconduct with eight female patients, some of them his underage employees, at his office between 2012 and 2015.
Darius Bunyad, 36, of Petaluma, was not in Sonoma County Superior Court when the verdicts were read. Bunyad failed to appear and a no-bail warrant was issued for his arrest.
Defense attorney Richard Scott said he last saw his client 11 a.m. Wednesday and he is concerned about his welfare. Scott said after Bunyad heard attorneys’ closing arguments Tuesday he “may have felt there was no way out for him.”
“I saw a total change in him. He may have felt shame,” Scott said. “His family is from Afghanistan and he was born in the Middle East,” Scott said.
Bunyad faces eight years in prison for the six felony convictions of sexual battery by fraud, Deputy District Attorney Jason Riehl said.
Bunyad also was convicted of six misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child. Some of the juvenile victims were high school cheerleaders or athletes.
The adult victims were between 27 and 51 years old. All the witnesses testified as Jane Doe.
The victims testified Bunyad touched their breasts when they were clothed or bare-chested and touched their pubic and pelvic areas and buttocks during the chiropractic treatments that for some were part of their employee compensation. Riehl said Bunyad’s conduct was for his own sexual arousal and gratification.
Scott argued Bunyad’s chiropractic treatments at Health Performance Chiropractic in Santa Rosa entailed whole body healing and touching. He said Bunyad had 3,000 patients and only a small percentage made sexual allegations.
Santa Rosa police began investigating the allegations in 2014 and received information in 2015 from a school counselor who reported incidents involving a girl under age 18. Bunyad was arrested Nov. 20, 2015.
Scott told the jury in his closing statement that other victims reported the sexual misconduct only after they read news accounts of Bunyad’s arrest. He said the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners found no evidence of sexual misconduct.
“This case should have been resolved before trial,” Scott said.
Riehl told the jury Bunyad said his treatments could cure cancer, lactose intolerance and scoliosis, and Bunyad never had anyone else but the patient in the exam room during the treatments.
“This trial is a story about trust and a violation of that trust,” Riehl said.
Jury foreman Jim Wheaton of Sebastopol said the accusations against Bunyad were justified and the evidence was significant. The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon.
“The witnesses were persuasive. We started out thinking their testimony was true,” Wheaton said.
“There were inconsistencies but no defense evidence saying this didn’t happen,” Wheaton said. “At the end of the day, we were forced to look at the law,” Wheaton said.
“Even though we saw there was sexual intent, we didn’t believe all the touching was sexual,” Wheaton said.