A Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend, accused of kidnapping, drugging and sexually assaulting two women, pleaded not guilty Wednesday while prosecutors filed additional charges against the couple after more alleged victims stepped forward in recent weeks.
Orange County prosecutors said there are five new potential victims, bringing the total to seven. The not guilty pleas from Grant William Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley, who were making their first court appearances Wednesday, covered the new charges against them as well as the original ones.
Robicheaux and Riley stayed near one another throughout the hearing. Riley appeared nervous, at times close to tears; Robicheaux appeared calm. As the couple walked from the courtroom gallery to their seats behind their attorneys, Riley reached for Robicheaux’s hand.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones set their bail at $1 million each, despite requests by prosecutors to raise it to $3 million, and by one of their attorneys to keep it at $100,000. Both were released after posting bond by the early afternoon.
Last month, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced that Robicheaux, 38, and Riley, 31, had been charged with sexually assaulting one woman in April 2016 and a second one in October 2016, both times meeting the women in a Newport Beach restaurant or a bar and bringing them back to Robicheaux’s apartment.
Within days of that announcement, more than a dozen people, whom prosecutors described as “potential credible victims,” contacted the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Rackauckas has said that at least one of the allegations dates back more than a decade, and some may have occurred out of state.
He also alleged that Robicheaux may have met some of the women on dating or social-media websites, not just at bars, restaurants or events.
The new allegations follow a similar pattern. Prosecutors say the pair met the women at bars, parties or restaurants, got intoxicated with them, then sexually assaulted the victims at their home. According to the criminal complaint, the alleged s****l assaults dated back as far as 2015.
Attorneys representing both Robicheaux and Riley have denied that any nonconsensual s*x occurred. Robicheaux is a Newport Beach-based orthopedic surgeon who has appeared on the Bravo television show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” while Riley, a Brea resident, works for a bus company and teaches dance to children.
Neither Robicheaux nor Riley spoke to the media. But both flatly denied the allegations in a statement released after the hearing.
“We unequivocally deny all allegations of non-consensual s*x and absolutely deny any allegations that we have ever secretly drugged anyone for the purpose of having s*x with them,” the statement from the couple read. “We have both passed polygraph tests on each of the questions and we look forward to the truth coming out.”
The first woman contacted Newport Beach police in 2016, the day after, she alleged, the couple had sexually assaulted her. Prosecutors say the second woman woke up at Robicheaux’s apartment while being sexually assaulted and screamed for help, leading a neighbor to call 911.
Investigators didn’t initially have enough evidence to make an arrest, according to the Newport Beach Police Department, but continued looking into the incidents. In January, they carried out a search warrant at Robicheaux’s apartment, finding large quantities of drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine, and illegal weapons, according to the DA’s Office.
Police also located thousands of images and videos of apparently intoxicated women alleged to have been filmed by Robicheaux and Riley, according to the DA’s Office, and learned the pair had traveled to large festivals across the country, leading prosecutors to suspect there could be other victims from those events.
“Through the strength of the first two victims, courageous women have forward, as we believe there are more out there,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who attended the hearing. “Nobody has a pass to rape, to have s****l contact with you when you are past the point of consent.”
Robicheaux’s attorney, Philip Cohen, noted that prosecutors have not yet looked through the videos and photos found on the couple’s computers. Prosecutors acknowledged that they began looking though the electronic evidence, but stopped when they ran across items that could possibly be covered by doctor-patient confidentiality.
“The ability of this man, and this woman, to have a life has been damaged, perhaps irreparably impacted, by the specter of this boogey man without, apparently, anyone knowing what is on those videos,” Cohen said after the hearing, as Riley and Robicheaux stood next to him.
Outside the courthouse, Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who is seeking to replace Rackauckas as DA in next month’s election, criticized prosecutors for not immediately filing charges after the search warrant was carried out in January. Spitzer handed to some reporters copies of the warrant, which had been obtained by some media outlets after charges were filed, but has since been sealed by the court.
Later in the day, Judge Jones, at the urging of the prosecutors and defense attorneys, ordered reporters in the courtroom, including a reporter from the Orange County Register, to turn over to the court the copies of the search warrants given out by Spitzer. The judge also ordered the reporters not to publish details from the warrant, which prosecutors described as containing “extremely sensitive information about the rape victims and the defendants.”
The DA’s office claimed Spitzer “knowingly disseminated a sealed search warrant.” Spitzer, in a phone interview after the hearing, said he was “deeply troubled” by the judge’s decision, noting he obtained the search warrant before it was sealed, and alleging that the DA’s office was trying to hide a public record after “they got caught red-handed engaged in malfeasance.”
Robicheaux, who currently faces 15 felonies, and Riley, who faces 12, were ordered to return to court on Jan. 18.
Each faces three counts of kidnapping with intent to commit a s****l offense. His charges include four counts of rape by use of drugs, while hers include three.