SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. – A woman who was allegedly victimized at the Sherman Oaks home of a man who was once a contestant on "Millionaire Matchmaker" spoke out Thursday and urged other possible victims of his to come forward.
She gave an emotional account of what she'd endured as the man – Michael Leslie Bernback, 65 – is about to go to trial to face criminal allegations that he drugged and raped three women in 2014 and 2015.
The woman told reporters that she was communicating with Bernback on a dating website for two months in 2015 before they agreed to meet up. During their conversations the woman – identified by police only as Jane Doe – said she told Bernback things she was not willing to do sexually, and he seemed to understand.
"Then I went to his house and the complete opposite happened," the victim said.
She said Bernback told her not to speak and slapped her when she did. Two other women were at Bernback's house when he sexually assaulted her, she said.
Police did not allow Jane Doe to elaborate on the alleged conduct, but she told reporters she remains traumatized by the encounter. She said she has lost her jobs and friends, has social phobias, no longer dates and has become homeless.
"He ruined my life," she said.
Bernback, who said his net worth was around $8 million when he appeared on the Bravo reality TV show "Millionaire Matchmaker," was arrested at his Sherman Oaks home in the 4200 block of Sunnyslope Avenue on Aug. 13, 2015.
Police said at the time that he had raped three women; the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced he was charged with eight felony counts: sexual penetration by a foreign object, attempted sodomy by use of force, forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, rape by use of drugs, rape of an unconscious person and two counts of administering drug to commit rape.
He has since been released on bail.
Jane Doe said Thursday that she is scared because Bernback is free. She urged other victims to come forward and "put this man away. He is a very sick person."
Police described Berback as having "trolled adult websites" seeking women, alleging he'd been preying upon women since 2013.
Investigators know of eight women who were victimized by Bernback, LAPD Lt. Jim Gavin said Thursday. Gavin explained that Bernback preyed on women between 20 and 24 who had a troubled sexual history. Most of the women had been molested as children, Gavin said.
Gavin described Bernback's home as a "house of horrors" and a "fortress" that only had one way in and one way out. He added that Bernback made one woman sign a waiver saying their interactions were consensual, but she felt like she was raped by him.
Gavin said two of Bernback's victims felt so ashamed that they have tried to commit suicide.
Police are asking other possible victims come forward – even if they are afraid to do so.
“We are seeking additional victims who are afraid and who are ashamed to come forward to step forward now to help us end this," the lieutenant said. "Please, you are not alone, we are here to help."
Anyone with information is asked to call Van Nuys Detective Householder at 818-374-0010 or 818-374-0040, or 877-527-3247 during weekend or nonbusiness hours. Anonymous tipsters may call 800-222-8477.