DA to drop charges against California doctor and his girlfriend accused of drugging, assaulting women

The Orange County district attorney says his predecessor mishandled the case against Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley in a "blatant abuse of power."

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By Doha Madani

Charges are being dropped against a California surgeon and his girlfriend after the Orange County district attorney announced Tuesday that prosecutors found no evidence the pair drugged and sexually assaulted women, despite his predecessor's assertions.

Dr. Grant Robicheaux was charged in 2018 with assaulting a total of seven women, with his girlfriend Cerissa Riley charged as an accomplice in at least five of the cases. Both Robicheaux and Riley pleaded not guilty in 2018 and denied the accusations of nonconsensual sex.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said his team found no evidence of any assaults by the couple, despite the county's former prosecutor insisting a year and a half ago that he seized "thousands of videos" and there could be "more than a thousand" victims.

"There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted," Spitzer said Tuesday. "Not one."

Two prosecutors from Spitzer's office conducted a 3-month-long review of the case and all its evidence before determining that the county would not be able to meet the burden of proof to convict Robicheaux and Riley.

Representatives for both Robicheaux and Riley did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment.

Spitzer said that he would file a motion to dismiss the charges in the coming days. He also said he would meet with the alleged victims to explain to them the case did not sustain the burden of proof.

"If you lose your prosecutors, society loses faith in the entire criminal justice system," Spitzer said. "And I will not let that happen in Orange County.”

He accused former District Attorney Tony Rackauckas of using the case to promote his re-election efforts in 2018, in what Spitzer called a "blatant abuse of power."

Robicheaux previously appeared on a Bravo TV show called “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male," prompting the case against him to garner international headlines.

Rackauckas said in a deposition with the couple's lawyers last year that he expected to receive publicity for the trial.

"This is not the way the system is supposed to work," Spitzer said.

Rackauckas in a statement to NBC Los Angeles on Tuesday night hailed the courage of the women who came forward.

"Any prosecutor should think long and hard before dismissing such a case where multiple women have independently come forward," Rackauckas said. "I just hope they’re not being sold down the river for some twisted political motive," he said.

Rackauckas also said that the case was brought to his attention in 2018 after it was initially investigated and that "dozens of complainants" came forward with allegations of drugging or sexual assault after media attention.

Rackauckas said he then reassigned the case to a senior deputy district attorney who gave a fresh review of the case and then filed the criminal complaints which are to be dismissed.

The former DA also said he has had no information or involvement in the case since he left office a year ago, and he does not believe the dismissal of the case is warranted.

"My heart goes out to the women who had the courage to come forward with their complaint, because I believed their complaints based on the evidence I had before leaving office," Rackauckas said.