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Newport Beach surgeon charged with drugging and raping 5 more women

Newport Beach surgeon charged with drugging and raping 5 more women
Dr. Grant Robicheaux, sitting with girlfriend Cerissa Riley in court Wednesday, was charged with drugging and raping five more women as prosecutors added felony kidnapping counts and increased bail for each of them to $1 million. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A Newport Beach surgeon was charged Wednesday with drugging and raping five more women as prosecutors added felony kidnapping counts and increased bail to $1 million for the celebrity doctor.

Dr. Grant Robicheaux, 38, a onetime reality TV star once dubbed Orange County’s most eligible bachelor, and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, 31, are accused of rape by drugs, kidnapping, oral copulation by anesthesia, assault with intent to commit sexual offenses and other crimes.

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The pair pleaded not guilty to a slew of felony charges during a court appearance in Newport Beach on Wednesday. As they entered the courthouse, the two held hands while surrounded by a crowd of reporters and photographers.

Robicheaux was newly charged with sexually assaulting five women, while Riley was accused of being involved with attacks on three women. The pair initially were charged with drugging and raping two women.

The accusations against the surgeon date to 2009. A woman, who was in her mid-20s at the time, told authorities she began dating Robicheaux after they met at a bar in Newport Beach in September that year. Prosecutors say the doctor raped her at his home after she told him she didn’t want to have sex. She told authorities that she knew Robicheaux had weapons and that she was afraid of him.

The surgeon is accused of three felony counts of kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual offense, four counts of rape by use of drugs, two counts of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, a count of forcible rape, a count of oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance, four counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale and two counts of possession of an assault weapon. Those charges could carry a sentence of more than 82 years in prison.

Many of the new charges against the doctor are linked to alleged incidents before he began dating Riley, a former teacher.

Riley is facing three counts of kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual offense, three counts of rape by use of drugs, two counts of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, a count of oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance and four counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale. She could get up to 63 years in prison.

More than a dozen women and one man have claimed they were attacked by Robicheaux, according to Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. The pair were arrested last month after a lengthy criminal investigation.

Rackauckas previously urged others who might have encountered the couple to contact authorities.

Robicheaux and Riley in a joint statement said they "unequivocally deny all allegations of non-consensual sex and absolutely deny any allegations that we have ever secretly drugged anyone for the purposes of having sex with them.” They added they were aware of the investigation since January and “didn’t flee” and plan to clear their names in court.

The investigation began in 2016 after complaints by two women who separately told Newport Beach police they were brought to Robicheaux’s house on 44th Street and assaulted. One woman described the couple as a “Bonnie and Clyde” team who drugged her and forced her to engage in sex acts, according to court documents.

But prosecutors Wednesday said the couple preyed on their first victim together in March 2015.

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Robicheaux and Riley are accused of raping a woman in her mid-20s who was unable to resist because she was under the influence of “intoxicating and controlled substances,” according to prosecutors.

They then struck again in April 2016, authorities allege. A woman told police she met Robicheaux at China Palace, a Newport Beach restaurant and bar. They exchanged phone numbers, and about a week later, she accepted an invitation to a boat ride in Newport Harbor with Robicheaux, Riley and several others, according to court documents.

The woman told police that after the ride, she was “very tired and very intoxicated” and rode a golf cart with Robicheaux and Riley back to the doctor’s home, where she had to be helped inside. The couple carried her upstairs to a bed, she said, where the doctor gave her two pills and she “immediately felt lethargic.”

The woman told police that Robicheaux had unprotected sex with her while Riley recorded it with an iPhone. She said Riley performed oral sex on her.

“The victim felt paralyzed by the apparent drugs and did not feel as though she could physically resist Robicheaux and Riley while they were having sex with her,” police said in court documents.

A toxicology report showed the woman had cocaine, ecstasy and MDA, a stimulant known as the “love drug,” in her system.

A second woman told police she lost consciousness while drinking with the couple at a Newport Beach bar in 2016. The woman reported that she was taken to Robicheaux’s house, where the couple began “sexually assaulting her with the intent to commit rape.” The woman screamed for help, and a neighbor called police, according to court documents.

No arrests were made immediately after either incident, but detectives continued to work the case for two years.

Prosecutors now say Robicheaux and Riley attacked other women during that time.

One woman, who was in her mid-30s, met Robicheaux and Riley through a mutual acquaintance at a Halloween party in Newport Beach in October 2016. The two are accused of drugging her drink with GHB and raping her after she passed out. She awoke during the assault, according to prosecutors.

Another woman in her early 20s had dinner with Robicheaux in Newport Beach in April 2017 after they met on a dating app. She told authorities that Riley showed up during the date and pretended to be Robicheaux’s friend, not a love interest. The woman went to a bar with them, where they plied her with alcohol and then took her back to their home and sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious, prosecutors said.

The woman awoke during the incident and locked herself in a bathroom for the night, officials said.

Another woman in her early 20s met the couple at a Fourth of July party last year. She partied and drank with them on a boat a few days later. She told authorities the couple invited her back to Robicheaux’s house, where the doctor raped her, according to prosecutors.

As part of that investigation, police searched Robicheaux’s home in January 2018 and found a video of at least one of the women being assaulted, authorities said. They also discovered numerous videos and photographs of other potential victims on the couple’s phones, some of which were taken at festivals including Burning Man and Splash House in Palm Springs, prosecutors said.

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The search turned up large quantities of illegal drugs, including GHB, ecstasy and cocaine, along with two illegal, unregistered assault rifles, four other firearms and several large-capacity magazines, prosecutors said.

Public records and a Hoag Hospital profile identify Robicheaux as a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who received his medical degree from Louisiana State University in 2007 and did his residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. He says he treats professional athletes.

Riley has been a substitute teacher in Fullerton. She received a teaching credential in 2017, but the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing suspended it for “misconduct,” according to the agency’s website.

In 2014, Robicheaux appeared on the Bravo show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” which followed his search for a girlfriend. He was declared Orange County’s most eligible bachelor by Orange Coast magazine in 2013 and used the online dating name “InGoodHands.”

Sclafani writes for Times Community News. Times staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.

2:05 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details on the new accusations.

12:30 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the charges filed.

This article was originally published at noon.

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