NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) – The case against a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend — both accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several women — will now be prosecuted by the California Attorney General’s Office after the Orange County district attorney was dismissed from the case by a judge.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones on Thursday removed the office of O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer from the case against 39-year-old Dr. Grant Robicheaux and 32-year-old Cerissa Laura Riley.
Jones scheduled a hearing for Aug. 27 to discuss transferring the case to the Attorney General’s Office.
This comes after a shocking and controversial move back in February in which Spitzer announced that his office would request that charges against Robicheaux and Riley be dismissed after a review of the case found a lack of evidence and a mishandling of the case by the previous DA.
However, after considering Spitzer’s request, Judge Jones announced in June that he would not dismiss the charges.
Back in September of 2018, Robicheaux and Riley were charged with 17 counts each, including rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by anesthesia, assault with intent to commit sexual offense and possession of a controlled substance for sale.
At the time, then-DA Tony Rackauckas said that Robicheaux and Riley would meet their victims at local bars and restaurants, drug them and then take them home and sexually assault them. Rackauckas claimed investigators had about 1,000 of these videos on the suspects’ phones.
However, on Feb. 4, Spitzer held a news conference in which he said that he had assigned new prosecutors to the case after he took office, and their review found no evidence of unconscious women being assaulted.
“There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted, not one,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer accused his predecessor, Rackauckas, of possible prosecutorial misconduct: sensationalizing the case and driving it forward as a publicity stunt to further his own re-election efforts.
Spitzer, a longtime O.C. Supervisor, defeated Rackauckas in the DA’s race in November of 2018.
In a statement Thursday, Spitzer said: “We will always make the right decision to the best of our ability. This new administration inherited many challenging and conflicting issues when we assumed office. Despite the fact that I am a career-long advocate for victims’ rights and the statewide initiative campaign manager of Marsy’s Law who has done everything I can to protect the rights of victims and ensure their voices are heard, I have a duty and an obligation to evaluate the facts and make very difficult decisions that must be made in accordance with the rule of law.”
Both Robicheaux and Riley have previously pleaded not guilty to the charges and remain free on bail. Robicheaux was charged in connection with seven victims, while Riley was charged with five.
Robicheaux was featured on Bravo’s show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” back in 2014.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)