Sanctions Come in the Wake of Reforms to Combat Sexual Abuse and Misconduct by NJ Licensed Professionals
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NEWARK – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced actions against two licensed professionals accused of engaging in criminal sexual conduct on the job.
“We will not allow licensed professionals to sexually prey on the patients and clients who trust them,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “Professionals who engage in such misconduct should not expect to be allowed to continue practicing in New Jersey.”
In the first action announced today, the State Board of Nursing permanently revoked the RN and LPN licenses of Frank Dellbeni, 74, of Plainfield
Dellbeni was arrested in January on charges of criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. According to charges pending against him, Dellbeni forcibly touched a female student’s breast while chaperoning a school field trip as a substitute school nurse in the fall of 2019.
The Consent Order, which was filed on August 4, 2021, prohibits Dellbeni from ever applying to have his licenses reinstated.
In the second action, the New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy temporarily suspended the license of massage therapist Jhon A. Cabrera, 28, of Paterson.
Cabrera was charged in March with criminal sexual contact after a female client at the Hand and Stone Spa in Hackensack reported to police that Cabrera had improperly touched her breast during a massage therapy session. In May, Cabrera was charged with sexual assault in connection with a 2016 incident in which he allegedly digitally penetrated a different client during a massage therapy session.
To resolve the Board’s investigation of the March incident, Cabrera agreed in a Consent Order filed July 28, 2021 to the temporary suspension of his license until the criminal charges are resolved and the Board takes further action in his case.
In April, the Office of the Attorney General in AG Administrative Directive 2021-3 unveiled sweeping reforms to address the problem of sexual abuse and misconduct among individuals licensed by the 51 professional and occupational boards and committees under the administrative oversight of the Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”). Those licensees, some 700,000 in all, include physicians, nurses, psychologists, drug and alcohol counselors, and massage therapists.
The Directive grew out of the Division’s yearlong comprehensive review, and called on the Division to work with the professional boards and committees to initiate specific changes and adopt best practices to address the problem of sexual misconduct through prevention, accountability, and victim support.
“The Division has for years worked collaboratively with the boards to address issues that affect public health and safety, and combatting sexual abuse and misconduct is at the fore of our working relationship,” said Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We commend the Board of Nursing and the Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy for taking action to address the very serious charges against these licensees. We will continue working closely with the Boards to ensure that all licensees are held to the same strict standards and that allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct are addressed swiftly.”
To date this year, at least a dozen licensed professionals have had their practicing privileges revoked, suspended, or otherwise curtailed in connection with sexual abuse or misconduct on or off the job.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation into the allegations against Dellbeni and Cabrera.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Antenucci of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group represented the State in the Dellbeni matter.
Deputy Attorney General Roman Guzik of the Division of Law’s Consumer Affairs Counseling Section is representing the State in the Cabrera matter.
Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation, and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.