Watch CBS News

OC Judge Nearing Reduced Charges Ruling In Newport Beach Surgeon, Grant Robicheaux And Girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, Rape Case

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) - Prosecutors in the case against a Newport Beach hand surgeon and his girlfriend, who are accused of drugging and sexually assaulting multiple women, told a judge Friday they intend to go forward with a new complaint charging the couple with crimes involving two alleged victims.

Prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, who were assigned to the case against Dr. Grant Robicheaux, 40, and Cerissa Riley, 34, when Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer's Office was removed from it, announced previously they wanted to whittle the case down to just one alleged victim.

But Julie Garland and Mary Katherine Strickland of the Attorney General's Office told Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Ospino Friday that they intend to soon file an amended complaint that would whittle the case down to two women -- down from the current five. The new complaint would also modify drug charges in the case to more accurately reflect the allegations, they said.

Ospino ordered the prosecutors to alert one of the alleged victims in the case that her allegations may be dropped and instruct her to come to court to voice any objections. Prosecutors have said the woman has not responded to their requests to discuss the case.

Robicheaux is currently charged with sexually assaulting five women and Riley is charged with three alleged victims. Previously, Robicheaux was charged with seven victims and Riley with five, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg granted a motion from prosecutors to dismiss charges related to two of the victims before he recused himself from the case last month.

The case has taken a turbulent path since it was filed in September 2018. It became a flashpoint during the campaign between Spitzer and then-D.A. Tony Rackauckas, who Spitzer unseated in 2018.

Spitzer moved to drop the entire case in February 2020, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Greg Jones rejected that motion, saying politics had "created a minefield of legal hazards" in the case.

Another judge denied an appeal of Jones' ruling and in August, Spitzer's office was kicked off the case.

Still at issue in the case is whether prosecutors will go forward with evidence from other alleged victims whose allegations are not part of the charges. Prosecutors in sex assault cases often elect to add evidence from what is legally known as "1108 victims" to help jurors see a pattern of behavior, even though there are no charges related to those alleged victims.

In this case, there are a total of 13 alleged victims who have been interviewed by investigators.

Ospino said he wanted to make a ruling on the request for an amended complaint reducing charges by next week because, "That leaves us all of September, October,  November, and December to finish whatever motions we need to be done and begin a preliminary hearing in this case."

Ospino was appointed to the case when Bromberg suddenly recused himself at the end of last month. Bromberg, who had gotten into testy exchanges with prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case, denied a motion from defense attorneys to disqualify him from the case based on the tense back-and-forth in court, saying it was "untimely." But while he denied having any prejudice in the case, he decided to step aside.

Ospino said he has made "substantial headway" reading all of the motions, hearing transcripts, and other court papers in the case.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.