OC Massage Therapist Arrested on Suspicion of Elder Sexual Abuse and Rape - NBC Southern California

OC Massage Therapist Arrested on Suspicion of Elder Sexual Abuse and Rape

Investigators believe there may be additional victims.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    OC Massage Therapist Arrested on Suspicion of Elder Sexual Abuse and Rape
    Orange County Sheriff's Department
    Russell Bernardino, 43, was arrested on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, on suspicion of rape, elder sexual abuse, oral copulation and sexual battery.

    A massage therapist and licensed home health care provider was arrested Wednesday at his Mission Viejo residence on suspicion of rape, elder sexual abuse and other sex crimes, the Orange County Sheriff's Department reported.

    The sheriff's Special Victims detail took 43-year-old Russell Bernardino into custody about 8 a.m. 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 were circulating the suspect's photo.

    Anyone with information about the case was asked 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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