An Orange County massage therapist and licensed home health care provider was charged Thursday with raping a senior client in her home in a retirement community and sexually assaulting two other women during massage treatments at a Mission Viejo spa.
Russell Bernardino, 43, of Mission Viejo, is charged with one felon count each of rape and sexual penetration by a foreign object and force, along with four misdemeanor counts of touching an intimate part of another person, along with a sentencing enhancement allegation for a crime against a vulnerable victim.
The Orange County sheriff’s Special Victims detail took Bernardino into custody about 8 a.m. Wednesday and booked him into the Orange County Jail, with bail set at $100,000.
Bernardino has been licensed as a massage therapist for about three years and as a home health care provider for about two years, according to the sheriff’s department.
He has worked at several massage businesses, according to sheriff’s detectives, who opened an investigation in April when a 36-year-old woman came forward to allege she was sexually assaulted by the suspect while receiving a massage at Massage Envy in Mission Viejo.
In June, a 71-year-old woman alleged that she was also sexually assaulted by Bernardino at the same location, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Jaime Blashaw.
Bernardino is also accused of raping a 77-year-old woman in March 2018 while serving as her caregiver at her home in Laguna Woods, the sheriff’s department reported.
He was employed by West Coast Care in Orange from 2017-2018, and may have worked for other home health care companies in Orange County, according to investigators, who believe there may be additional victims and asked anyone with information about the case to contact the sheriff’s department at 714-647-7419, or submit an anonymous tip to OC Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS or at occrimestoppers.org.
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