SANTA ROSA (BCN)
A Santa Rosa chiropractor who failed to appear in court just hours before he was convicted in 2017 of sexual battery was arraigned Friday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court for alleged willful failure to appear at a court proceeding and committing a felony while free on bail.
Darius Bunyad, 38, of Petaluma, was arrested in Mexico on Jan. 24. A resident of Playa del Carmen, Mexico called Santa Rosa police on Nov. 26 to report Bunyad's alleged whereabouts. The resident sent photos of the man believed to be Bunyad and police believed they were indeed of the chiropractor.
The U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force assisted in finding Bunyad and he was booked in the Los Angeles County Jail before arriving at the Sonoma County Jail this week.
Bunyad had short hair and was clean-shaven during his earlier trial, but he had longer hair and a long dark beard in court Friday afternoon.
Bunyad was allegedly not in court when a jury convicted him on March 9, 2017, of six felony charges of sexual battery by fraud and six misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child.
Some of the juvenile victims were high school cheerleaders or athletes, and the adult female victims were between 27 and 51 years old. The crimes occurred in examination rooms at Bunyad's Santa Rosa practice, according to trial testimony.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office's complaint alleged Bunyad committed sexual battery on or molested 10 victims, but 12 victims testified at the trial, Deputy District Attorney Jason Riehl said.
Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite set Feb. 11 for entry of plea and setting of a preliminary hearing in the failure to appear case. Bunyad faces a maximum of 13 years in prison in the sexual assault case and two years and eight months in the failure to appear case, Riehl said. Bunyad is being held on $1 million bail.
Some of Bunyad's victims attended Friday afternoon's arraignment. Riehl said they have expressed their gratitude to law enforcement for capturing Bunyad and are looking forward to seeing justice done.