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Attorney alleges O.C. DA is interfering with high-profile Newport Beach rape case

A victims rights attorney is accusing the Orange County District Attorney of “interfering” with the prosecution of a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend accused of drugging and raping several women, despite local prosecutors having been removed from the high-profile case.

Attorney Matt Murphy, who represents several women who have accused Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley of sexual assault, alleged in court Thursday that DA Todd Spitzer has continued to call officials with the California Attorney General’s Office, which inherited the criminal case after a judge found that the district attorney’s office was too conflicted to prosecute the couple.

“Todd Spitzer has continued to interfere,” Murphy said, noting that his clients have not yet been interviewed by state prosecutors. “The AG’s office should not be accepting his phone calls. He should be radioactive to them.”

Murphy also alleged that the DA’s office was interfering with state prosecutors talking to the lead DA investigator on the Robicheaux and Riley case. He cited a letter sent by attorney’s representing the investigator which indicate that she would only be allowed to speak to state prosecutors when her supervisor was present, an arrangement her attorneys indicated was meant to intimidate her and amounted to a gag order.

The DA’s office previously blamed the investigator for many of the problems with the criminal case, alleging she left key information out of her reports and led a “whisper campaign” to exaggerate evidence against the couple. A judge has indicated that he didn’t believe the investigator did anything wrong.

DA spokeswoman Kimberly Edds said the office has been “completely cooperative” with the attorney general’s office, turning over all the evidence they have collected and providing “unrestricted access to all District Attorney personnel.” She accused Murphy – a former Orange County homicide prosecutor – of making “baseless and inflammatory accusations,” adding Spitzer has not spoken to the trial attorney with the AG’s office.

“The Attorney General hasn’t even completed its review of the evidence, yet Mr. Murphy made it clear in court today that if they can’t handle the case, they need to get out of the way,” Edds said. “These personal attacks make it clear that he is more interested in grandstanding than the facts of the case.”

Prosecutors under the leadership of former DA Tony Rackauckas initially accused Robicheaux and Riley of meeting women at bars and restaurants, drugging them and then luring them back to Robicheaux’s Newport Beach apartment to sexually assault them. The DA’s office, now under Spitzer’s leadership, reversed course, citing a lack of evidence and a belief that the couple were swingers whose sexual encounters and drug use was consensual.

In August, Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones declined to dismiss the criminal charges, finding that the alleged victims deserve their day in court.

On Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Yvette Martinez asked for more time in order to make sure that her office has received all the electronic evidence in the case before deciding how to proceed.

“We are conducting a very thorough and independent review,” Martinez said.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham said the decision whether or not to file a criminal case has already been made, since the existing charges were never dismissed. But the judge agreed to continue the proceedings until March 4.

Source: Orange County Register

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