O.C. Massage Therapist Charged With Raping 77-Year-Old Woman, Sexually Assaulting 2 Massage Envy Clients

A massage therapist from Mission Viejo has been charged with raping a 77-year-old woman while working as her in-home caregiver, and sexually assaulting two other women who were his clients, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Russell Bernardino is seen in a booking photo released July 17, 2019, by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Russell Bernardino is seen in a booking photo released July 17, 2019, by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Russell Bernardino, 43, is facing one felony count of forcible rape, one felony count of sexual penetration by a foreign object, as well as four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, officials said in a news release.

He is also facing an enhancement of a crime against a vulnerable victim over the age of 65.

Bernardino, who has been a certified massage therapist for about three years, was arrested Wednesday morning at his home.

In April 2019, a 36-year-old woman reported she had been sexually assaulted by Bernardino while getting a massage from him at the Massage Envy in Mission Viejo, prosecutors said. One month later, a 71-year-old woman reported being sexually assaulted by Bernardino at the same Massage Envy, located at 27620 Marguerite Parkway, also in April.

In March 2018, prosecutors said the 77-year-old woman reported she was raped by Bernardino at her home in Laguna Woods while he was her licensed home health care provider.

Bernardino was employed by West Coast Care from 2017-2018, and investigators said he may have worked for other home health care companies in Orange County.

Investigators told KTLA Bernardino no longer works at Massage Envy and his massage therapist license was suspended about two weeks ago.

Bernardino was being held on $100,000 bail.

If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum of 21 years in prison.

Investigators believe Bernardino may have additional victims and are asking for the public’s help in gathering more information.

Anyone with details on possible additional victims to contact the O.C. Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7419. Anonymous tipster can call 855-847-6227, or visit occrimestoppers.org.

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