The judge who gutted a sexual assault case against a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend ruled Thursday that the case should go to trial on seven remaining counts, including a charge that they slipped drugs into a woman’s drink.
In July, Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Leversen ruled there was not enough evidence to take Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley to trial on charges they drugged and sexually assaulted two women.
It was a major setback for a case that had already eroded dramatically since 2018, when Robicheaux was charged with sexually assaulting five women, and Riley with being involved in attacks on three.
All sex charges were dismissed, and in late August, the case appeared to get smaller still, when the judge signaled that he would toss out three more felony counts. The counts involved the allegation that Robicheaux and Riley slipped a drug into the drink of a woman known in court as Jane Doe and furnished her with PCP, in addition to Riley supplying cocaine.
The judge reversed himself Thursday, however, saying those three counts can stand, and that a jury should decide facts in dispute, such as whether Jane Doe ingested drugs voluntarily, as the defense contends.
Along with the charges related to Jane Doe, Robicheaux faces felony counts of illegal possession of assault weapons, as well as misdemeanor charges of possessing cocaine, Ecstasy, psilocybin and GHB.
The case has drawn widespread attention owing in part to Robicheaux’s celebrity status. An orthopedic surgeon, he appeared on the Bravo reality show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” and was deemed Orange County’s “Most Eligible Bachelor” by a local magazine.
In 2018, then-Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas portrayed the couple as predators who found women in Newport Beach bars and plied them with drugs, and claimed Robicheaux kept a stash of sex videos portraying women who were too intoxicated to consent.
Rackauckas’s successor, Todd Spitzer, said the case had “serious proof problems” and that no such videos were found. The state attorney general’s office took over the case, which was whittled down from 13 accusers to two, and now just the woman known as Jane Doe.
According to the criminal complaint, that woman met Robicheaux and Riley in April 2017 at Nobu, a restaurant in Newport Beach, and later went to a second bar, where Riley gave her cocaine in the bathroom.
“Her next memory was walking up the stairs to Robicheaux’s home,” according to the complaint. Jane Doe said the couple made aggressive sexual advances while ignoring her protests, and that Robicheaux shook powder he identified as PCP into a water bottle that Riley handed her.
The woman, who serves in the Israeli military, is expected to fly to the United States to testify for the prosecution at trial, which is scheduled for November.
Source: LA Times