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Calif. doctor, girlfriend were branded sexual predators. Was it a political game?

Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

LOS ANGELES -- When the case broke in 2018, it immediately became fodder for tabloid headlines around the world.

Orange County prosecutors at the time accused prominent Newport Beach doctor Grant Robicheaux, 39, and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley, 32, of being sexual predators who used their good looks to lure vulnerable women, drug them and take them back to their posh home to sexually assault them.

But on Tuesday, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced that he was dropping all charges against the couple, accusing his predecessor and longtime political foe, Tony Rackauckas, of botching the case and making accusations that could not be proved.

"I didn't create this situation, but it's my responsibility to fix it," Spitzer said at a news conference. "Doing justice is not always pretty, and it's not pleasant many times. This is not pleasant at all, but these are important decisions that affect people's lives."

Rackauckas fired back in a statement, defending his handling of the case and suggested the dismissal was a possible "political vendetta against me."

"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 baring their souls to the authorities," Rackauckas said. "I just hope they're not being sold down the river for some twisted political motive."

 

The shocking reversal leaves many questions:

Q: What was the couple accused of doing?

A: Robicheaux was charged with sexually assaulting seven women and Riley five. One woman described the couple as a "Bonnie and Clyde" team who drugged her and forced her to engage in sex acts, according to court documents. Robicheaux and Riley had both pleaded not guilty and repeatedly denied having nonconsensual sex with any of their accusers.

The case became political almost immediately.

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