A fugitive warrant was issued Thursday for an Orange County massage therapist and licensed home health care provider who failed to appear in court on charges including rape and sexual battery.
Russell Bernardino, 44, of Mission Viejo, forfeited the $100,000 bail he posted July 29, according to court records.
Sheriff’s detectives began an investigation in April 2019 when a 36-year-old woman came forward to allege she was sexually assaulted by Bernardino while receiving a massage at Massage Envy in Mission Viejo.
A 71-year-old woman alleged in June 2019 that she was also sexually assaulted by Bernardino at the same location, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Jaimee 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.
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.
Bernardino 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 said he also worked at several massage businesses.
Bernardino was charged in July 2019 with one felony 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.
Bernardino is also charged with four felony counts of sexual battery involving an unconscious victim.
Bernardino pleaded not guilty Sept. 20, 2019.
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