Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced today that his office plans to drop all charges in a high-profile case in which a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend were accused of drugging and sexually assault multiple women.
Spitzer said at a press conference that a review of the case by his office found “There’s insufficient evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Dr. Grant Robicheaux, 39, and Cerissa Riley, 32, were charged in 2018 with charged with rape by drugs, oral copulation by anesthesia, and assault with intent to commit sexual offenses, among other crimes.
Spitzer, who inherited the case from the previous DA, Tony Rackauckus, tasked his office with conducting what he called a “de novo” review of the Robicheaux case last year. “The de novo review team unanimously agreed there is insufficient evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Spitzer said earlier today.
Previously, local prosecutors had argued that the orthopedic surgeon and his girlfriend were sexual predators who used their looks, and an array of mind-altering pharmaceuticals, to lure an untold number of victims into their web.
Robicheaux, who was once featured in a short-lived Bravo reality TV dating show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male, faced sexual assault accusations from seven female victims; Riley, his longtime girlfriend and co-defendant, faced accusations from five women.
A police search of the couple’s home found drugs in Robicheaux’s home, including GHB, known as a date rape drug because, when combined with alcohol, it can induce a coma-like state, and the fact that it is metabolized quickly by the body can make it difficult for a toxicology test to detect.
Spitzer began raising objections to the Rackauckas’s handling of the case when he was a candidate for office in 2018. On the day of the couple’s arraignment, just weeks ahead of the DA election, the two men held dueling press conferences about the case in front of the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
Attorneys for the defendants have argued that the previous DA exaggerated the incriminating nature of thousands of electronic files uncovered from Robicheaux’s Google Cloud Drive including dozens of videos showing the couple in sexual encounters with other women in varying states of consciousness.
Philip Kent Cohen, an attorney representing Robicheaux, equated misstatements of DA Rackauckas regarding the video evidence as “tainting” the potential jury pool and jeopardizing the defendants’ chance of receiving a fair trial.
Since the charges against the pair went public, as many as 18 women have accused the couple of drugging and sexually assaulting them; seven of those are charged as victims in the case, while the remainder are not being pursued in court because they were outside the statute of limitations or the incidents occurred out of state.
According to ABC News, the district attorney said he will meet with the alleged victims to explain to them why the review did not sustain the burden of proof.
For more on the saga of Robicheaux and Riley, read our February feature on the couple.
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