In her new Audiochuck podcast, O.C. Swingers, journalist Justine Harman reexamines the case of Newport Beach surgeon Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley. The couple have been accused of carrying out a string of sexual assaults, and are involved in a complex criminal case that remains unresolved.
Harman, former features director at Glamour and, more recently, the creator and host of hit podcasts The Baron of Botox and Broken Harts, lives in Southern California, but had managed to avoid hearing much about the case until podcast producer Josh McLaughlin brought the disturbing allegations to her attention as a possible project.
“There are some stories that don’t stop gnawing at your brain—this was one of those that did that,” Harman says of her reaction, once she starting looking into Robicheaux and Riley. “The second I got a little past the surface, I kept digging a little further.”
As she dug, she began to run into obstacles in reporting on what really happened. While Harman credits a 2020 Los Angeles article about the case as a significant source, she says that getting beyond the headlines was a challenge.
“You’ll hear more about the reporting impasses and dead ends in episode four,” she says. “But what I’ve learned is that some people, and some stories, get protected at all costs.”
One thing she was able to explore more deeply, she says, was the relationship between Robicheaux and Riley and their personal histories. “I think [Riley’s] backstory will surprise people,” Harman notes.
While the salacious case makes for a dramatic story, Harman says she hopes that listening to the podcast will encourage listeners to think about how the criminal justice system serves–or fails–victims of rape and sexual assault.
“I hope that justice is served through the criminal justice system—though considering the way this trial has gone so far, who knows if that will happen—but I think we need to rip the Band-Aid off of these difficult conversations. There’s a giant wound under there,” she says. “One in six women in America has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.”
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