Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Friday his office has received about 50 phone calls generating more than 12 credible leads to potential additional victims in their probe of a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend, who are charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women.
Rackauckas said that in regard to 38-year-old Dr. Grant Robicheaux, investigators are looking into possible crimes dating back as far as two decades ago.
“We’re expanding our inquiries to several states and as well as other parts of California,” Rackauckas said. “We now believe that Robicheaux and (Cerissa Laura Riley) not only met their prey in person at bars and restaurants, but Robicheaux may have targeted victims through dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble.
“Ladies, please be careful when you meet people on these kinds of apps. You don’t know what’s behind … what appears to be a perfect smile.”
Robicheaux and Riley, 31, of Brea, are charged with rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by a controlled substance, assault with the intent to commit a sex offense and possession of a controlled substance for sale. Robicheaux is also charged with two counts of possession of an assault weapon.
When Rackauckas announced charges against Robicheaux and Riley on Tuesday, he called on anyone who suspects they were a victim to come forward. He noted that investigators discovered more than 1,000 videos of Robicheaux’s cellphone of alleged assaults, and many of the women depicted in them were unidentified.
His office announced Wednesday that three additional women had come forward — one alleging she was victimized in Las Vegas and other saying her alleged encounter with the physician occurred in Manhattan, where Robicheaux studied at New York University Hospital.
Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who is running to unseat Rackauckas in November, faulted Rackauckas for not warning the public earlier about the potential threats from the accused. Spitzer said prosecutors signed a search warrant in the case on Dec. 27.
“So the district attorney has known about this for almost a year,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer said Rackauckas or Newport Beach police should have warned the public about the suspects in January after guns and drugs were seized in a search. Spitzer also argued that Rackauckas should have filed charges in January and called for victims to come forward then.
“He’s literally jeopardizing these victims’ safety by delaying a call for additional victims,” Spitzer said.
If charges had been filed in January prosecutors by now could have been seeking a higher bail by now, Spitzer said.
Asked Friday about the timing of the charges, Rackauckas said his office became aware of the case “a few months ago, with a DNA result that did not come back to these defendants but it caused us to become aware that this case existed.”
“Since then we’ve been working with Newport (Beach police) to put together the search warrant and develop the evidence and bring the case,” Rackauckas said. “They (police) gave us the case to file in September.”
Rackauckas’ office issued a detailed timeline of events in the case that noted the “cold DNA hit” was given to prosecutors Aug. 28, 2017. Prosecutors then began working with Newport Beach police on Sept. 6, 2017, and was informed there were “multiple reports involving” Robicheaux.
On Oct. 17, 2017, prosecutors received all reports from Newport Beach police on Robicheaux, Rackauckas’ office said. The law enforcement agencies met three times to discuss the evidence through early December.
Prosecutors blamed online companies for a delay in receiving evidence from Robicheaux’s phone because it “consisted of multiple terabytes of information.” That evidence wasn’t all received by investigators until Feb. 23 and then it was turned over to forensic experts to analyze.
The hard drive was decrypted May 4 that led to further investigation of large amounts of digital information to identify other potential victims in the videos, prosecutors said.
Robicheaux’s attorney, Philip Cohen, and Riley’s attorney, Scott Borthwick, issued a joint statement earlier this week flatly denying allegations their clients engaged in any non-consensual sexual activity.
Attorney Shawn Holley, who has also joined the defense team, appeared to echo Spitzer’s comments.
“As we know, this investigation has been going on for years, and they were not arrested long ago,” Holley told reporters Friday.
“They were just recently arrested at their home. So I think that also speaks to the seriousness of these allegations, or lack thereof, as far as the district attorney or law enforcement is concerned. They do have a duty to protect the public, and if they felt that the public needed protection they would have seen to it that Grant and Cerissa were facing these charges long ago.”
Said Cohen: “There has been much to say about thousands of victims and hundreds of counts. We cannot speak to any of those. All we can do is tell you that after the lengthy investigation that has taken place after the many months of review of video and media and digital information, we are prepared to defend against the charges that have been filed.”
Borthwick noted the first alleged crime reported to police happened in April of 2016 and the second was reported in October of 2016.
“Then about 15 months passed and a search warrant was executed at their house in January of 2018,” Borthwick said. “Then about eight months passed and they were arrested in September 2018. There’s so much I want to say in defense of Cerissa Riley, but at this time I’m going to reserve my comments for the courtroom.”
In the two cases that have resulted in criminal charges, prosecutors contend the pair met one victim at a Newport Beach bar and another at a restaurant, drugged them, lured them to Robicheaux’s apartment and sexually assaulted them.
One woman who met the couple on April 10, 2016, said they took her to a party and then to the doctor’s apartment once she got intoxicated, Rackauckas said. The other alleged victim said she became intoxicated and passed out at a bar on Oct. 2, 2016, and was taken to Robicheaux’s apartment, where she was assaulted, Rackauckas said.
Riley introduced herself to the two alleged victims and then brought them over to meet Robicheaux, according to Rackauckas, who said the drugs they are accused of using include Ecstasy, date rape drugs and cocaine.
They are not believed to have used medical anesthetic-type of drugs, he said.
Robicheaux appeared on a Bravo reality TV series called “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” in 2014, in an episode titled “Three’s a Crowd.”
He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at Louisiana State University, graduating in 2007, and did his residency at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange.
Robicheaux was employed as a surgeon at NewportCare Medical Group, but was been removed from the company’s website on Tuesday.
Riley is an aspiring educator who worked occasionally as a substitute teacher in Fullerton, Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael Carroll said.
Newport Beach police submitted the results of their investigation to prosecutors Sept. 6, and the defendants were arrested Sept. 12. They are both free on $100,000 bonds and are due to be arraigned Oct. 25 at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
Anyone who believes they were victimized was encouraged to call investigator Eric Wiseman at (714) 347-8794.
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