Charges to be Dismissed Against Local Surgeon, Girlfriend

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Grant William Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley’s Newport Beach Police Department’s booking photos.
— Courtesy NBPD

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced Tuesday that all criminal charges will be dropped against Newport Beach orthopedic surgeon and reality television star Grant Robicheaux, 39, and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley, 33, who were accused of drugging and sexually assaulting seven women.

On Sept. 11, 2018, former District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed initial charges in People v. Robicheaux and Riley, eight months after a search warrant was executed on Robicheaux’s Newport Beach home, OCDA Todd Spitzer explained in a press release shared on Tuesday. At the time, the charges included assaults on two women.

Robicheaux was charged with nine felonies, including rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by use of anesthesia or a controlled substance, assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, four counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale, and two counts of possession of an assault weapon. There was also a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a firearm during a health and safety code violation.

Riley was charged with seven felonies, including rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by use of anesthesia or a controlled substance, assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, and four counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale. She was also charged with knowingly vicariously armed with a firearm.

Robicheaux faced a maximum of 40 years in state prison if convicted of all charges. Riley faced a maximum of 30 years and eight months in state prison.

There were several press conferences covering the case at the time.

Authorities told members of the media that investigators had recovered videos depicting up to 1,000 incapacitated women being sexually assaulted. Rackauckas urged additional victims to come forward and explained that women who had contact with the couple may not realize they were in fact victims.

The case also received international media attention.

On Oct. 17, 2018, Rackauckas filed additional charges involving five additional women who came forward.

Robicheaux was charged with an additional eight felonies, including three counts of kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual offense, three additional counts of rape by the use of drugs, one additional count of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, and one count of forcible rape.

Riley was charged with an additional six felonies, including three counts of kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual offense, two additional counts of rape by the use of drugs, one additional count of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense.

Robicheaux and Riley both faced a maximum of life in state prison if convicted on all charges.

“Rackauackas admitted in a sworn deposition on June 19, 2019, that he had used the case to garner media attention to help his re-election campaign,” Spitzer wrote in the press release on Tuesday.

The new OCDA at the time, Spitzer, then ordered a complete reevaluation of the case. Two veteran sexual assault prosecutors were assigned to review of the case.

“Over three months, the two prosecutors reviewed every piece of evidence in the case,” Spitzer wrote.

According to the OCDA, the review included: Thousands of photographs, videos, and chats from computers; hundreds of hours of audio recordings; thousands of pages of documents; tens of thousands of text messages between the defendants over four years; thousands of text messages between defendants and others, including alleged victims; thousands of conversations on Bumble, Tinder, Facebook, and other social media services; hundreds of emails including from alleged victims, defendants, police, and potential leads; and thousands of pages of transcripts of alleged victim and witness interviews, and depositions.

On Tuesday, Spitzer announced that “this exhaustive review revealed there was not a single video or photograph depicting an incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted by Robicheaux or Riley.”

“In fact, the review revealed that there was not a single independent witness who came forward to say they saw the defendants sexually assault an unconscious woman,” the OCDA press release explains.

A team of prosecutors “determined there is no provable evidence” that they committed any sexual offense.

“My sworn duty as the elected district attorney is not to secure convictions,” Spitzer said in a prepared statement. “My sworn duty is to pursue justice and ensure that the rights of victims and defendants are protected.”

The prior District Attorney and his chief of staff ” manufactured” the case and repeatedly misstated the evidence, Spitzer said.

“As a result of the complete case review I ordered beginning in July, we now know that there was not a single video or photograph depicting an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted,” Spitzer said in the statement.

“What the prior District Attorney and his chief of staff did to these defendants and to the women involved in this case is a travesty,” Spitzer continued. “While I cannot undo the injustice that has already been done in this case, I can — and I will — continue to fulfill my legal and ethical obligations as the elected District Attorney of Orange County and dismiss all criminal charges against Dr. Grant William Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley.”

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