A Newport Beach surgeon once accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a series of women was sentenced to probation on Wednesday after accepting a plea deal on relatively minor drug and gun possession charges, bringing a quiet end to an at-times politically-charged but ultimately drastically pared-back criminal case.
Dr. Grant Robicheaux, 43, during a hearing in a Fullerton courtroom, pleaded guilty to a felony gun possession charge and a misdemeanor drug possession count and was immediately sentenced to two years of formal probation, one year of informal probation and ordered to take part in 16 hours of drug education classes and 32 hours of community service.
Philip Cohen, Robicheaux’s attorney, told reporters after the hearing that he felt vindicated by the outcome of the case, noting that Robicheaux will wake up tomorrow with a “sigh of relief” and “a large weight off his shoulders.” If Robicheaux follows the terms of his probation, the felony would be reduced to a misdemeanor and both charges eventually wiped from his record.
Robicheaux and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, were at one point accused of sexually assaulting seven women. The couple continuously denied the allegations, with their attorneys describing them as “swingers” who engaged in consensual sex and drug use with other women.
Despite all the sexual assault charges being dropped or dismissed, Cohen argued that Robicheaux’s life will never be the same. His medical career is likely over, the defense attorney said, and his future prospects uncertain.
Robicheaux lost his Balboa Peninsula home and voluntarily allowed his medical license to be suspended, the attorney said. He currently lives in an RV with Riley, with whom he now has a young child. And the intense, international coverage the initial allegations received remain an online search away for landlords and potential patients.
“His professional life is done,” Cohen said. “His reputation is forever damaged… It’s sad to see what allegations can do regardless of the outcome.”
A victim’s rights attorney representing one of the couple’s accusers — a woman who is currently in the Israeli military and serving in that country’s war against Hamas — told the judge that she could not publicly read a statement the woman had written. The attorney, Sharon Tekolian, accused prosecutors of keeping them out of the loop as to the plea deal discussions, and said they had been warned by the defense that a statement against the doctor and his girlfriend could be considered defamation.
“(She) has worked on an impact statement for weeks, during a literal war in Israel she’s fighting in,” Tekolian said. “It’s frustrating, because I feel my client has been effectively silenced.”
Deputy Attorney General Namita Patel said prosecutors finalized the plea deal with the defense on Wednesday morning, and shared it with the victim’s attorney afterward. Cohen denied that he threatened a potential defamation lawsuit.
The plea deal was a far cry from the headline-grabbing allegations announced five years ago by then-DA Tony Rackauckas, who described Robicheaux — an orthopedic hand surgeon who appeared on the Bravo television show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” — and Riley as serial predators and rapists who picked up young women at Newport Beach night spots, drugged them and then sexually assaulted them at Robicheaux’s Balboa Peninsula home.
Current DA Todd Spitzer — who unseated Rackauckas — attempted to dismiss the charges and apologized to Robicheaux and Riley. That drew an outcry from the accusers and their attorneys, and a judge ended up removing the DA’s office from the case, arguing that it had been “infected” by politics. The state Attorney General’s Office took over the prosecution.
Meanwhile, the number of alleged victims began to drop.
Some asked out of the case, telling prosecutors with the Attorney General’s office that they had been “grossly mistreated” and “dragged through the mud.” Other accusers saw the charges tied to them dropped by the Attorney General’s office, whose prosecutors determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prove to a jury they had been sexually assaulted. The Attorney General’s office decided to continue with two alleged sexual assault accusers remaining.
A judge earlier this year gutted what was left of the case, however, finding there wasn’t enough evidence to support any of the remaining sexual-assault-related charges. What had once been a headline-grabbing, multiple-sexual assault case became a drug and gun case.
A month ago, the remaining charges against Riley — poisoning and providing drugs to a woman — were dismissed, leaving her exonerated. The remaining charges against Robicheaux — related to a gun and a drug found during a police search of his home — were resolved with Wednesday’s plea deal. The gun is an assault rifle illegal to possess in California and the drugs are psychedelic mushrooms.
Robicheaux, through his attorney, declined to make a public statement following the hearing.
Source: Orange County Register