From Celebrity Surgeon to Accused Serial Rapist
Prosecutors in Southern California had said they believed there were more victims when they charged a couple last month with drugging and sexually assaulting two women the couple had met on social outings.
This week, prosecutors announced additional charges in the couple’s case after five more accusers came forward.
The Orange County district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, told a news conference on Wednesday that Grant Robicheaux, 38, an orthopedic surgeon, had been charged with sexually assaulting five additional women, and that Cerissa Riley, 31, a teacher, received charges for additional assaults of three of them.
Both defendants also now face a charge of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense of three women in 2016 and 2017, Mr. Rackauckas said. Investigators believe the defendants met the victims in a public place where the couple drugged them, and took them to Mr. Robicheaux’s home to sexually assault them after they were incapable of consenting.
On Wednesday, the two pleaded not guilty in state court to the new charges, said Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokeswoman at the district attorney’s office. The couple remained free on bail of $1 million, she said.
“We unequivocally deny all allegations of nonconsensual sex and absolutely deny any allegations that we have ever secretly drugged anyone for the purpose of having sex with them,” the couple said in a statement, published by local television stations after their court appearance on Wednesday. Their lawyers, Philip Cohen and Scott Borthwick, did not respond to a request on Thursday for comment. A pretrial hearing for the couple is scheduled for Jan. 18.
Mr. Robicheaux has now been charged with 17 felonies, and Ms. Riley with 13. The charges against the couple include rape by the use of drugs; assault with the intent to commit sexual offenses; and possession of a controlled substance for sale, Mr. Rackauckas said. Mr. Robicheaux’s charges span 2009 to 2018 and include forcible rape and possession of an illegal assault weapon, he said.
If convicted, Mr. Robicheaux faces 82 years and four months to life in prison, the district attorney said. Ms. Riley faces 63 years to life in prison, he said.
At the news conference, Mr. Rackauckas praised the five women who had recently come forward. “Their echoed sentiment was that they wanted to support the first two women who came forward, and to make sure that no one else suffers in silence the way they did,” he said.
“We think there are more victims out there,” he added.
In addition to leads that have come in telephone calls, investigators in the district attorney’s office and the Newport Beach Police Department have been scrutinizing some of the cellphone videos of possible victims on Mr. Robicheaux’s phone, Mr. Rackauckas said on Wednesday.
Investigators believe that Mr. Robicheaux and Ms. Riley met their alleged victims at bars, parties and festivals, including Dirtybird Campout in Silverado, Calif., and Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Some of the women said they had met the couple on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.
The couple is also believed to have traveled to Splash House festival in Palm Springs, Calif., BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen and Tulum in Mexico, and to landmarks near Page, Ariz., the district attorney’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mr. Robicheaux, whose practice is in Newport Beach, south of Los Angeles, appeared on an episode of the Bravo reality TV show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” in 2014.
Other alleged victims who have spoken to investigators reported assaults that occurred outside of the jurisdiction of Orange County, and that information has been passed on to authorities in other counties in California and one in Nevada, the district attorney said.