By Patch editor Alfred Branch
Mark Bernardini, 57, pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing two patients he was counseling, one of whom was a 12-year-old boy, according to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
Bernardini, who was arrested in July of 2013, pled guilty to one count of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class “B” Violent Felony, and one count of Forcible Touching, a class “A” Misdemeanor. At his sentencing on Feb. 19, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison and 15 years post-release supervision.
According to DiFiore, Bernardini “inappropriately touched a 19-year-old woman that he was counseling at his home office in North Salem” in May of 2013. And in July, Bernardini “engaged in sexual contact with a 12 year old boy that he was counseling” while at his Milburn Street office in Bronxville.
“The courage displayed by both young victims in this case in immediately alerting their parents to what had transpired allowed police and prosecutors to quickly determine the predatory behavior of this defendant,” said DiFiore in a statement. “He used his position of trust and authority to target and take advantage of his unsuspecting victims and instead of helping them with their vulnerabilities, he exploited them.”
Bernardini, who resides on Peach Lake Road in North Salem, has been remanded to custody pending his sentencing. Upon his release from prison, he will also have to register as a sex offender under the provisions of Megan’s Law, according to DiFiore.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Amy Puerto of the Special Prosecutions Division.