Santa Rosa chiropractor who fled ahead of conviction arrested in Mexico, police say
A Santa Rosa chiropractor who disappeared before his conviction for molesting women and teens nearly two years ago was arrested in Mexico on Thursday after a Cancún-area resident tipped off Santa Rosa investigators to his presence, police said.
Officers with the U.S. Marshals Office took Daryoush “Darius” Bunyad into custody and he was booked in the Los Angeles County Jail on Friday, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department.
Police learned of Bunyad’s whereabouts after a resident of Playa del Carmen, a resort town south of Cancún, phoned Santa Rosa officers on Nov. 26 and told them Bunyad was living in the coastal town. The resident provided officers with photographs of Bunyad taken in Mexico, and investigators confirmed the fugitive’s identity.
The Santa Rosa Police Department later requested help from the U.S. Marshals Service to make the arrest.
“We were able to get pretty confident that the photo we had was him, and we passed it on to the feds,” said Sgt. Brenda Harrington, who oversees the Santa Rosa Police Department’s domestic violence and sexual assault investigations. “They ran with it.”
As of Friday, Harrington did not know where Bunyad was arrested in Mexico or if he was still living in the Playa del Carmen area. Harrington was not aware of any ties between Bunyad and Playa del Carmen prior to the tipster’s call, she added.
The arrest came on the heels of a Wednesday settlement in a Sonoma County Superior Court civil case to determine whether Bunyad and his company should pay for medical expenses and other damages to a woman he began groping and sexually molesting when she was a 16-year-old high school basketball player, said Shawn Tillis, the attorney representing the woman.
The terms of the settlement were confidential, Tillis said, declining to answer additional questions on the matter. The woman, now 20, learned of Bunyad’s arrest Friday and was thankful to the Playa del Carmen resident who reported him to authorities, Tillis said.
“She’s just relieved,” Tillis said. “It’s a sense of justice for her.”
Bunyad landed on the department’s wanted list after he failed to appear in court March 9, 2017, for the verdict in his criminal case. The jury convicted him in absentia of 14 felony counts, including sexual battery, annoying or molesting someone under the age of 18 and battery. He faced a maximum prison sentence of eight years.
During the trial, several women and teens, including the woman in the civil case, told jurors that Bunyad made them take off their clothes in front of him and had groped them.
Before his disappearance, Bunyad was last seen in Walnut Creek with his young son on March 8, and in Santa Rosa on March 9. His family told officers they did not know his whereabouts, police said.
The Sonoma County Superior Court issued a no-bail bench warrant in Bunyad’s name for failing to appear the day of the conviction hearing, Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said. Prosecutors filed an additional felony case against Bunyad six days later for failing to appear in court while on bail, resulting in a $1 million warrant for his arrest, Staebell said.
Bunyad will likely be extradited to Sonoma County, where he’ll be arraigned on the new felony charge, Staebell said. A judge will decide how to proceed with the new case and the sentencing for the 2017 sex crime convictions.
You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter ?@nashellytweets.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat
Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.