OC judge tosses charges against Newport Beach doctor, girlfriend – Press Enterprise
By PAUL ANDERSON
Signaling an end to the long-running, politically charged prosecution of a Newport Beach hand surgeon and his girlfriend who were initially accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a series of women they met in bars or other settings, a judge said Friday, Oct. 20, he will dismiss most of the remaining charges in the case.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Leversen dismissed felony charges of poisoning and sale of phencyclidine against Dr. Grant Robicheaux, 43, and Cerissa Riley, 36.
Robicheaux, however, is expected to plead guilty to felony counts of possession of an assault weapon and four misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, including GHB, more commonly known as the date-rape drug. Riley no longer faces any criminal charges.
It was not immediately clear when Robicheaux will enter his plea to the weapon and drug charges. Leversen said he would agree to a stipulated sentence.
Barring further developments, the judge’s decision marks a winding down of a case that began five years ago in the heat of a re-election bid by then-District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who held a widely covered news conference to announce the charges. The case quickly became a target of then-DA candidate Todd Spitzer, who criticized Rackauckas’ handling of the case and questioned why Rackauckas did not move faster to file it.
After he was elected, Spitzer called for an internal review of the case, assigned two new prosecutors and then moved to dismiss all of the charges. That drew protests from several of the alleged victims, and an Orange County Superior Court judge refused to toss the case.
Spitzer’s office was eventually recused from the case and the Attorney General’s Office took over.
Robicheaux initially faced charges involving five alleged victims and Riley three alleged victims, but a prior Orange County Superior Court judge granted a motion from prosecutors to reduce the charges. There were initially a total of 13 accusers, some who prosecutors had planned to use as witnesses to show a pattern of behavior at trial.
By the time the case got to a preliminary hearing, there were two alleged victims.
After a roller-coaster ride of various court rulings, dismissals and refiling of charges, only one alleged victim remained in the case — a woman who initially began chatting with Robicheaux via the Bumble app and said she trusted him because he was a doctor who once appeared on a TV show on Bravo.
Leversen tossed out sexual assault charges following a July preliminary hearing, which left only the poisoning and drug possession charges remaining against the pair.
With those charges tossed out on Friday, attorneys and the judge were still meeting to determine what sentence Robicheaux could face on the remaining counts against him, and when his plea might be entered. The timing is complicated by the fact the alleged victim in the poisoning counts is in the Israeli military and serving in the war against Hamas.
Attorneys said the woman wants to address the judge if a plea deal is struck in the case.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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