SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA: A celebrity surgeon and his model girlfriend who were accused of drugging and raping as many as 1,000 women have spoken out for the first time since it appeared that the charges against them would be dropped.
Grant Robicheaux, 38, an orthopedic surgeon who had previously appeared on Bravo reality TV show ‘Online Dating Rituals of the American Man,’ and his girlfriend Cerissa Luara Riley, 31, were charged in 2018 with rape by drugs, kidnapping, and other crimes.
Authorities had alleged that the couple had plied their victims with drugs and sexually assaulted them when they were incapable of resisting.
They were charged for the sexual assault of seven women, though Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney at the time, claimed there were as many as 1,000 victims and insisted he had video proof of the same.
However, the case eventually became muddled in the politicking between him and current Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who accused his predecessor of improperly handling the case and using it to draw publicity.
Spitzer had announced earlier this week that he would be dropping the charges against the couple after finding that key video evidence that Rackauckas said he had, never existed in the first place. The case was set to go trial in a few days.
Speaking to Good Morning America after the news broke, Robicheaux and Riley expressed relief but bemoaned the damage that had already been done to their lives. They said they had been “destroyed” by the claims and that they now feared for their safety.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer speaks during a news conference at the Orange County District Attorney’s office in Santa Ana, on Tuesday morning, Feb. 4, 2020, announcing that the charges in the case against Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley are being dropped citing a lack of evidence and accusing his predecessor of mishandling the case (Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register via AP)
“I still can’t believe this happened to us,” said Robicheaux, who lost his medical practitioner’s license because of the allegations. “I feared every time I’d walk my dog that someone was going to shoot or stab me, to follow through with these threats to me or my family.”
“The thing that stuck out in my mind and hurt the most is ‘unprecedented appetite for sex with unconscious women,'” he continued, quoting Rackauckas’s pre-trial description of him. “I mean, I have sisters. I have a mom. It’s disgusting.”
“We’ve maintained our innocence from day one. We never hurt anyone,” Riley said, adding that there was “never a question” of whether all the women they had sex with consented to it and were in a state where they could give consent to it.
It was a sentiment echoed by their lawyer, Philip Kent Cohen who said that “the mere filing of this case has destroyed irreparably two lives.”
While Rackauckas has expressed his disappointment at the recent developments and called into question the treatment of the victims, Spitzer said he had only asked the court to dismiss the case after having attorneys in his office review extensive evidence including audio and video recordings, text messages and documents.
“There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted. Not one,” he shared.
He also said he had referred Rackauckas’ handling of the case to the State Bar for review, opened an internal personnel investigation, apologized to the defendants, the Newport Beach Police Department, and the public.
But it appears he acted too soon. While it was all but expected that the charges would be dropped, a Superior Court judge ruled on Friday, February 7, that he needs more time before deciding to dismiss the charges. The decision had followed attorney Mike Fell, representing one of the alleged victims identified as Jane Doe 4, reading out her powerful impact statement in court.
It’s not just the potential threat of a criminal trial that Robicheaux and Riley will have to deal with either. They are still being sued in civil court by some of the women who they allegedly abused, and would have to pay out as much as $22.5M in damages if they lose.