Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced that all criminal charges will be dropped against a 39-year-old Newport Beach orthopedic surgeon and reality television star Grant Robicheaux and his 33-year-old girlfriend Cerissa Riley who were accused of drugging and sexually assaulting seven women.
On September 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 h ome. 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. He was also charged with sentencing enhancements 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.
Over the next several weeks, Rackauckas held two press conferences in which he told members of the media investigators had recovered videos depicting up to 1,000 incapacitated women being sexually assaulted by Robicheaux and Riley. He 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 received international media attention based on the revelation that up to a thousand women had been victimized.
On October 17, 2018, Rackauckas filed additional charges involving five addi tional women who came forward as a result of the intense media coverage on the case.
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.
After 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 ordered a complete reevaluation of the case.
Two veteran sexual assault prosecutors were assigned to the top to bottom review of the case. Over three months, the two prosecutors reviewed every piece of evidence in the case.
The De Novo 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.
- Thousands of pages of transcripts of alleged victim interviews, witness interviews, and depositions.
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.
A team of prosecutors with a combined 175 years of experience determined there is no provable evidence that Robicheaux and Riley committed any sexual offense.
“My sworn duty as the elected district attorney is not to secure convictions,” said Spitzer. “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 this case and repeatedly misstated the evidence to lead the public and vulnerable women to believe that these two individuals plied up to 1,000 women with drugs and alcohol in order to sexually assault them – and videotape the assaults.
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.
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.
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.”
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Editor’s Note: De Novo means newly presented or discovered, or “from the new”. De novo review occurs when a court decides an issue without deference to a previous court’s decision.