A surgeon, who was a 'Bachelor of the Year' and reality TV show date, is accused of drugging, raping women

 
 
Updated 9/19/2018 7:54 AM
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  • Cerissa Laura Riley and Grant Robicheaux.

    Cerissa Laura Riley and Grant Robicheaux. Orange county District Attorney

Grant Robicheaux seemed too good to be true, at least to the woman he met online.

He was an orthopedic surgeon in Newport Beach, California, and had recently been named "Bachelor of the Year" by Orange Coast magazine in 2013. In 2014, the TV network Bravo picked him to star in an episode of the short-lived reality dating show, "Online Dating Rituals of the American Male," in which he was described as the "total package." Robicheaux's profile name was "InGoodHands."

But on his first reality-date, the woman wasn't interested, believing something was off. She suggested to viewers that "there might be some dark skeletons in that closet."

"I want to know what's wrong with you," the woman told Robicheaux over dinner, "because you seem, like, too perfect."

This year, the episode found a new audience: prosecutors -- who now say that Robicheaux, with his girlfriend, Cerissa Laura Riley, used this "charm" to lure at least two women back to his apartment under false pretenses, where the couple raped them.

At a news conference Tuesday, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the pair is accused of picking up the women at bars or parties, drugging them to the point that the women became unconscious or nearly unconscious, then raping them at Robicheaux's apartment. Rackauckas said investigators believe there are many more victims: They found hundreds of videos on Robicheaux's cellphone featuring women who appear "past the point of consent," he said.

The couple has been charged with rape by drugs, oral copulation by anesthesia and assault with intent to commit sexual offenses, among other things. Robicheaux is under investigation by the Medical Board of California, but his alleged sexual assaults are not connected to his medical practice, Rackauckas said. Riley's profession is unclear, he said. Attorneys for the both defendants have denied the allegations.

"We believe the defendants used their good looks and charms to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey," Rackauckas said after playing a clip of Robicheaux's appearance in "Online Dating Rituals of the American Male." "We've all heard of a wolf dressed up in sheep's clothing. Well, a wolf can wear scrubs or doctor's clothing, or a wolf can be a beautiful woman."

The two alleged victims first came forward to police in 2016.

Police say Robicheaux and Riley met the first victim in April 2016 at a restaurant in Newport Beach, and then invited her to a party on a boat. At some point, police say the couple drugged the 32-year-old woman and escorted her to Robicheaux's apartment, where police say they raped her. The following day, the woman contacted police and underwent a forensic exam, which found that she had multiple controlled substances in her system.

In October 2016, Robicheaux and Riley met a second victim at a Newport Beach bar, where police say they kept drinking with the victim "until she was no longer conscious." The couple then allegedly took her back to Robicheaux's apartment, where they are accused of sexually assaulting her with intent to commit rape. The woman woke up in Robicheaux's apartment, screaming so loud that neighbors called the police.

Rackauckas said it appeared Riley "played a significant role in disarming the victims and making them feel comfortable and safe" before taking them back to Robicheaux's apartment.

The investigation into the couple didn't have a breakthrough until January of this year, when police had enough evidence to execute a search warrant on Robicheaux's apartment. There, they found illegal weapons, including two unregistered assault rifles, and illegal substances, including date-rape drugs, ecstasy and cocaine, Rackauckas said.

In response to questions about possible snags that delayed the investigation, a spokeswoman at the Newport Beach Police Department said there was never a lull.

"These cases have been challenging to investigate, but we have remained dedicated to identifying the suspects and gathering as much evidence as possible to get justice for the victims," spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said.

Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but previously released a statement to multiple media outlets saying the defendants "unequivocally deny" all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

"They have been aware of these accusations for a number of months and each of them will formally deny the truth of these allegations at their first opportunity in court," attorneys Philip Cohen and Scott Borthwick said in a joint statement. "Dr. Robicheaux and Ms. Riley believe that such allegations do a disservice to, and dangerously undermine, the true victims of sexual assault, and they are eager to have the proper spotlight shed on this case in a public trial."

Rackauckas said investigators are currently reviewing the videos found on Robicheaux's cellphone and trying to identify the women in them, who may be additional victims. Many of the women appear "past the point of consent," the district attorney said, with some appearing "to be intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness or near unconsciousness. He said there are possibly more than 1,000 such videos.

Robicheaux faces up to 40 years in prison, while Riley faces up to 30 years and eight months if convicted. Both have been released on $100,000 bail each, and are scheduled to appear in court next month.

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