A man from Mission Viejo, CA has arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting multiple women while working at a Massage Envy as a licensed massage therapist. He has also been accused of raping an elderly woman while working as her home care aide.

43-Year-Old Man Charged With Sexual Assault, Sexual Battery, And Rape

In July 2019, a Special Victims Unit arrested the suspect, 43-year-old Russel Bernadino at his home in home in Mission Viejo, holding him on $100,000 bail. The arrest came after several women reported accounts of sexual assault and rape to police.

woman being massaged by sexual predatorThe first woman to come forward has alleged that Bernadino raped her. The alleged rape took place while Bernadino was working in her home in Laguna Woods as her caregiver. She was 77-years-old at the time. Then in April 2019, a 36-year-old woman contacted police to report an alleged sexual assault that took place at the Mission Viejo Massage Envy where Bernadino worked. Just two months later a 71-year-old woman also contacted the police about a sexual assault that took place during her massage at the same location.

Bernadino was licensed as a massage therapist for three years. Today his license is listed as suspended and he no longer works at Massage Envy.

Investigators are encouraging other victims to step forward.

The Only Way To Stop A Sexual Offender Is To Report Their Crimes

Over the last several decades there have been studies performed on recidivism rates of sexual predators, which is the tendency of a convicted criminal to repeat their offense. Although there is no clear answer regarding recidivism rates, one thing is clear: a sexual predator who has gotten away with sexual assault or rape will feel confident and will continue to seek out new victims, or attack the same victim, until they are caught.

Another fact that can be agreed upon is that sexual assaults are vastly underreported. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), out of 1,000 sexual assaults, only 230 are reported to the police. There are many reasons why a victim would choose to not report their abuse, including:

  • Fear: Many victims know their abuser and have been threatened with retaliation if they speak up.
  • Shame: Victims do not want their loved ones to know that they have been hurt.
  • Lack Of Belief: It’s not uncommon for victims to tell someone other than the police first, only to not be believed. This is particularly common among children.

At Abuse Guardians, we understand how important it is for the survivors of sexual assault and rape to have a team they can trust. When someone contacts us about the abuse they have endured, we believe them.

If you or a loved one are considering taking legal action, it’s important to understand that you can do this while still remaining anonymous. If you don’t want to speak publically about your experience you do not have to.

Legal Options Available To Rape And Sexual Assault Survivors

Reporting your assault to the police is an important first step. Criminal charges can result in justice being served and can also prevent others from becoming victims. But criminal charges do not help the plaintiff recover from the physical, mental, and emotional trauma that they have endured.

A civil lawsuit, which is filed against the person who committed the crime and any party whose negligence resulted in the attack, can provide the compensation that is needed to get the care that is needed.

What Is Meant By Negligence?

Legally, negligence occurs when a person or group fails to act in a reasonable manner that will provide a safe environment for others. Here’s an example – imagine that a hotel patron checks out of their room and informs staff that the lock to the room is broken. The staff, instead of fixing the broken lock, immediately assign that room to another visitor. During their stay, the second visitor is sexually assaulted by someone who accessed their room because the lock did not prevent entry.

In a case like this, the hotel would be considered negligent because they failed to provide a reasonably safe environment for the victim and they had been informed of the potential safety issue. This means the victim could take legal action against them.

The best way to determine if negligence occurred is to speak with an experienced sexual assault attorney who can review the case and identify any potential defendants.