WHITE PLAINS — A North Salem therapist indicted Tuesday on charges he sexually abused two patients said he may have exercised “bad judgment” by letting a 12-year-old boy masturbate during a session in his Bronxville office.
Mark Bernardini, 57, also said he may have accidentally touched the other victim, a 19-year-old woman, but only after her breast fell out of her blouse, according to court papers released in support of an indictment charging him with nine counts including felony criminal sexual act and misdemeanor forcible touching.
He was arraigned Tuesday in Westchester County Court and returned to the county jail.
Bernardini, a licensed clinical social worker who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, was accused of sodomizing the boy July 2.
He told investigators that a standard session turned into a discussion about sex and masturbation.
The boy masturbated himself on the couch, he said.
“Maybe I used bad judgment,” Bernardini told authorities, according to the court papers. He added that it was not inappropriate for the boy to masturbate in his office, that it was “perfectly normal” and “when I was a teenager a group of us boys would all go in a room and masturbate together.”
The boy told his parents about the incident after the session, and Bernardini was arrested later that night, authorities said.
It was his second arrest in a month. He was charged June 3 in North Salem, accused of fondling the young woman May 16 at his home office on Peach Lake Road. His excuse: “She was adjusting her blouse, and her breast fell out.”
He “did not say anything to her and continued with the session,” he purportedly told investigators. At one point, he “did sit next to her, and there could be a possibility that [he] may have inadvertently brushed [his] hand past her body, but would not have touched her on purpose.”
Bernardini, who is being held on bail of $75,000 cash or $150,000 bond, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison on the top charge.
He is due back in court Nov. 12.