A California judge has refused to dismiss the sex assault case against TV surgeon Dr Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley.
Robicheaux, 39, and Riley, 32, had been accused of ‘hundreds’ of sex assaults but DA Todd Spitzer announced his intention to have the case dismissed on Tuesday after declaring he had found no evidence of sex crimes.
But in a sensational new twist, Judge Gregory Jones declined to throw out the case after hearing statements from two of the alleged victims.
Instead, he told court he would take the decision under submission and asked attorneys for all parties to prepare final arguments to be handed to him.
The couple reacted with horror when Judge Jones postponed the dismissal, with Robicheaux looking on stony-faced and Riley bursting into tears.
Speaking outside court, Robicheaux’s lawyer Phil Cohen described the ruling as ‘surprising’ and said: ‘My heart goes out to Grant and Cerissa. This is like waking up on Christmas morning and finding there are no presents.
‘They will now have to get through this all over again.’
He declared that despite the setback, he is confident the case will he dismissed at the next hearing and expected Judge Jones to come to the same conclusion when he reviews the evidence.
On Friday morning, prior to the hearing, the couple gave an interview to GMA in which they spoke of their ‘relief’ that the ‘disgusting’ charges were to be thrown out.
But their celebrations now have to wait, after Judge Jones delayed the dismissal pending a fresh hearing on April 3.
During Friday’s hearing, DA Todd Spitzer said he had found nothing to suggest a sex crime had been committed – although he did reveal that cops had found baggies of cocaine, MDMA and date rape drug GHB in Robicheaux’s home during a search.
His view was vigorously opposed by the alleged victims, two of whom had powerful impact statements read out in court.
One alleged victim insisted that she still believed herself to have been sexually assaulted and was left ‘distraught’ by the collapse of the case while another described Robicheaux as ‘a psychopath’ and claimed she had been subjected to ‘a campaign of harassment’ by a private investigator employed by his legal team.
Neither Riley nor Robicheaux spoke as they made their way into court hand in hand but
Robicheaux left the courtroom in Newport Beach, California, while the alleged victims’ statements were read out – much to the fury of their lawyers.
Meanwhile, Riley sat in silence and looked on impassively as the victims’ stories were told.
During the hearing, DA Spitzer described the events of this week as ‘dramatic’ but insisted that his reason for wanting to dismiss the case was lack of evidence rather than misconduct by his predecessor.
He told Judge Jones that his doubts first arose during the deposition phase and said he was alarmed when former DA Tony Raucaukas told him that he viewed the case as a chance to create publicity and boost his re-election chances.
Ex-DA Rackauckas, who was booted out by voters last year, had claimed investigators had found hundreds of videos of semi-conscious women on Robicheaux’s phone.
He also said that other ‘unidentified victims’ could be out there and encouraged them to come forward.
But in court, Spitzer said that none of the allegations could be proven – despite his team of investigators combing through a tranche of evidence that included photographs, videos, text messages and transcripts of interviews with alleged victims.
Addressing Judge Jones, Spitzer said his team had reviewed four years of text messages between the couple alone, as well as hundreds of emails and thousands of messages sent on dating apps including Bumble and Tinder.
He also said that all but one of the accusers had refused a rape kit and said all admitted to drinking alcohol and taking drugs voluntarily.
Deputy District Attorney Karyn Stokke said: ‘After a thorough, complete and exhaustive review, we all came to the conclusion that we cannot prove these charges beyond reasonable doubt.’
She added: ‘We deeply regret putting the victims through the court process and the investigative process. In no way do we diminish the individual’s experiences as they went through this process.’
Responding to the dismissal, Michael Fell, the attorney for one of the alleged victims, described the development as being ‘tough’ on her and said the last three years had been a ‘nightmare’.
Fell read out a victim impact statement from his client, Jane Doe No.4, in which she said she is ‘devastated and heartbroken’ over the dismissal and described herself as ‘distraught’.
She told how she had never met Robicheaux and Riley prior to October 2018 but said she had ‘woken up in their home drugged one morning’.
She added: ‘I know in my heart that I was sexually assaulted.
‘I have been patiently waiting for two years for the defendants to be punished. Now, I feel victimized all over again.
‘I will now have to pick up the pieces of my life and move on. I am strong and will move forward from this and get my identity back. ‘The defendants intended to shut me down but I will not allow anyone to control me. They may have taken the last three years of my life but they will not have my future.’
A second victim who claims she was raped by Robicheaux while a law student in 2009 described him as ‘a psychopath’ and apologized to other victims for not speaking up then.
In her statement, Jane Doe No.1 said: ‘One of the worst days of my life was when I was raped by Grant Robicheaux.
‘I was scared no one would believe me. I didn’t stop him when I could and I am so terribly sorry to all the women who came after me.’
Robicheaux’s lawyer Phil Cohen said in response that an allegation is not enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt and added: ‘An allegation is an allegation and nothing more.’
He also protested Judge Jones’ decision to delay the dismissal, telling the court that ‘my clients’ lives are at stake’.
The couple are also facing a civil trial over similar allegations filed by Danielle Bejac who is looking for a payout of up to $20million.
Bejac, who lives in Ohio, claims she was drugged and sexually assaulted at Robicheaux’s home in October 2016.