The Orange County district attorney announced Tuesday that he is seeking to drop rape and kidnapping charges against a Newport Beach orthopedic surgeon and his girlfriend following an extensive review of the case.
Citing a lack of sufficient evidence following a three-month review, DA Todd Spitzer said his office will go to court “as soon as possible” to dismiss the case against Grant Robicheaux, 39, and Cerissa Riley, 32.
“There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted,” Spitzer said during a news conference Tuesday. “Not one.”
The pair had been arrested and charged in September 2018 with drugging and raping two women they met at bars.
In announcing the charges against the pair, the previous district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, whom Spitzer defeated in a reelection campaign, said that based on thousands of photos and videos found in Robicheaux’s possession, there could be close to a thousand victims in the case.
Robicheaux previously appeared on a Bravo TV show called “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” and Rackauckas said the pair used their good looks and charm to seduce women. He said the defendants also reached out to potential victims online and said they frequented music festivals.
Rackauckas asked for additional victims to come forward at the time.
But Spitzer said the number of potential victims was a misrepresentation that was perpetuated in the media to the advantage of his predecessor.
“Because the public and the media were led to believe that there was video evidence which confirmed thousands of victims, it was misreported worldwide,” Spitzer said.
Five additional women did come forward and kidnapping charges were added against the defendants a month later.
After those new charges were announced, Robicheaux was facing 17 felonies and 82 years to life in prison, while Riley was facing 13 felonies and 63 to life.
Spitzer said Rackauckas continued to misrepresent the thousand victims figure, and alleged Rackauckas’ then-chief of staff even pitched his boss’s appearance on the Howard Stern Show in connection with the case.
Spitzer admitted that he was skeptical of the case against Robicheaux and Riley when he learned that an arrest came nine months after a search warrant was executed.
He questioned why — after drugs, guns and money were found in Robicheaux’s home — he was allowed to leave the country twice and why there was no warning to the public that the so-called sexual predators were free.
“None of this made any sense to me,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer defeated Rackauckas in the November 2018 election, promising to review the case against Robicheaux and Riley.
The following summer, one of the victims in the case brought forward a civil case against Robicheaux and Riley in which Rackauckas was deposed.
Spitzer highlighted that his predecessor admitted under oath that he knew the case would garner a lot of publicity that would be beneficial in his reelection campaign.
It was also revealed that Rackauckas did not look at all the evidence against the defendants before the September 2018 news conference announcing the charges, Spitzer said.
After a review of the case was cleared by the California Attorney General’s Office, a team led by two Orange County prosecutors was formed in late October 2019. The team reviewed the evidence for three months, including hundreds of hours of audio, tens of thousands of text messages and conversations on dating apps during a four year period.
The team’s findings were presented to Spitzer on Jan. 29.
He said the findings were “mind-blowing and mind-numbing,” because they were “100% in contradiction” with what Rackauckas had represented.
Spitzer said that the team unanimously agreed there is insufficient evidence to prove the allegations of any of the seven alleged victims beyond a reasonable doubt.
Phil Cohen, an attorney representing Robicheaux, said he was happy to hear the news that the DA intends to drop the charges against his client.
“I am ecstatic. I am relieved. I’m certainly a bit surprised,” Cohen told KTLA.
Mike Fell, an attorney representing one of the victims, however, said he and his client were disappointed.
“Obviously she’s devastated by the information, she feels like she was righteously a victim of sexual assault,” Fell said.
KTLA reached out to Rackauckas for comment but has not heard back.
Spitzer said he welcomes any of the victims to speak with him so he can explain why the review showed the case did not sustain the burden of proof. He apologized not just to the victims, but the defendants as well.
“There is no winners here, there is only casualties,” Spitzer said.