(CBS News) – The charges against California surgeon Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley, who were accused of drugging and sexually assaulting multiple women, are being dropped by the Orange County district attorney due to insufficient evidence. Robicheaux and Riley faced decades in prison if convicted.
DA Todd Spitzer said attorneys in his office have reviewed extensive evidence, including audio and video recordings, text messages and documents, and concluded there was no way to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Spitzer said his predecessor Tony Rackauckas used the case to try to get reelected. “It’s a blatant abuse of power,” Spitzer said.
Robicheaux, who appeared on a reality TV show, and Riley were accused of using their good looks to lure the women back to his Newport Beach home. In 2018, Raukaukas alleged thousands of videos and images were found on the surgeon’s phone.
“The women in the videos appear to be highly intoxicated,” the former district attorney said at the time.
But Spitzer disputed that claim. “There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated women being sexually assaulted,” he said.
In a statement, Rackauckas said, “Even if all of (the) allegations against me … were true, and they are not, the remedy should not be dismissal. 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.” (Read his full statement below).
Seven “Jane Does” were named in the complaint. The attorney for one of them says his client insists a crime was committed.
“She feels like that she was in fact sexually assaulted by the defendants,” attorney Michael Fell said.
Attorney Phil Cohen, who represents Robicheaux, said the “mere filing of this case has destroyed irreparably two lives.”
Spitzer said he has referred Rackauckas’ handling of the case to the state bar for review and has opened an internal personnel investigation. He also apologized to both defendants and promised to meet with the alleged victims to explain why the evidence did not satisfy the burden of proof.
Rackauckas issued the following statement in response to Spitzer:
“I just feel terrible for the women who had the courage to come forward and give their evidence to the authorities in this case. It’s hard for them to make these reports about things that were so very humiliating in the first place then have to relive the pain. Certainly, any prosecutor should think long and hard before dismissing such a case where multiple women have independently come forward and subjected themselves to the hard process of bearing their souls to the authorities. I just hope they’re not being sold down the river for some twisted political motive. Paul Walters, Chief of the OCDA bureau, brought this case to the attention of the executive staff, including me, in 2018 after the case was initially investigated. After the press attention, dozens of complainants came forward with allegations of drugging and/or sexual assault. I reassigned the case to a senior deputy district attorney who gave a fresh and thorough review to the case. This experienced prosecutor filed the complaints that will now be dismissed. I have had no information or involvement in this case since I left the office more than a year ago. I understand that the current district attorney conducted multiple reviews of the case and initially determined that the case was good. He eventually removed the senior prosecutor and any other prosecutors assigned to this case. I also learned from his press conference that a district attorney investigator has now been put on leave. It is possible that new evidence was developed and certainly I have dismissed cases (People v. Angela Diaz), and even reversed convictions when I did not have confidence in the evidence (People v. McKinney). However, considering the complaint contained seven Jane Does, it is too bad the public now does not have the chance to explore the truth during a preliminary hearing. Further, it is my understanding that the Jane Does in this case were not afforded the dignity of being notified about the dismissal prior to today’s press conference. I hope the dismissal of this case was not based on the district attorney’s relationship with one of the criminal defense attorneys, nor due to his political vendetta against me. Even if all of his allegations against me and my former chief of staff were true, and they are not, the remedy should not be dismissal. 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.”
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