A judge’s decision about whether or not to dismiss a high-profile criminal cases against a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend accused of drugging and raping several women has been delayed due to court closures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Gregory Jones has delayed until early June a hearing previously set for Friday to discuss a request by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss charges against Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer in early February made the surprise announcement that his office would seek a dismissal of the case, which had drawn international attention. Spitzer cited a lack of evidence and alleged mismanagement of the case by his predecessor.
Robicheaux and Riley have denied that any non-consensual sex occurred. In a televised interview with ABC News shortly after the DA announced his intention to seek a dismissal of the charges, Robicheaux described it as “consenting adults that were having a great time.”
Attorneys representing some of the alleged victims have urged Judge Jones not to dismiss the charges, warning that such a move would be a “disaster for justice” and suggesting the state attorney general’s office either step in to prosecute the case or appoint a special prosecutor.
During a Feb. 7 hearing, an apparently skeptical Judge Jones told the attorney’s that he needed more details before deciding whether to dismiss the case. The judge ordered the prosecutors, the defense attorneys and the attorneys for the alleged victims to file briefs under seal outlining for him the full evidence in the case.
In a more recent hearing, prior to the coronavirus-related court closures, Jones had indicated that he planned to hear arguments for and against a dismissal of the charges during a court hearing and then at a later time release a written order outlining his decision.
Robicheaux and Riley were initially accused of using their good looks to meet women in bars and restaurants in Newport Beach, then drugging them and luring them back to Robicheaux’s apartment in order to sexually assault them. Each is facing three counts of kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual offense, among other charges connected to seven alleged victims.
During the February hearing, Spitzer told the judge that an exhaustive review of the case found “not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted.”
Attorney’s for the alleged victim’s have sharply questioned the DA’s conclusion, noting, among other things, that a large amount of GHB – which the attorneys note is well known as “the date rape drug” – was allegedly found at Robicheaux’s home. Defense attorneys for the couple have disputed how much GHB was found at the residence.
The hearing to discuss the evidence related to the request to dismiss the charges is now scheduled for June 5.
Source: Orange County Register