Surgeon who appeared on reality TV dating show is accused of sexual assault and preying on drugged women
Dr. Grant William Robicheaux billed himself as an elite orthopedic surgeon catering to Newport Beach’s famous and wealthy. It was a lifestyle he pushed not only in his medical work but on reality TV, where he appeared on a Bravo dating show wearing his hospital scrubs and a wide smile.
But Orange County prosecutors on Tuesday accused Robicheaux and his girlfriend of drugging and raping two women in separate assaults and said they suspect there are many more alleged victims. Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said Tuesday that Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley seemed like “clean-cut, good-looking people” but used their charms to prey on women they would meet in local bars and festivals such as Burning Man.
Robicheaux, 38, and Riley, 31, are accused of drugging their victims and bringing them back to his Newport Beach bachelor’s pad, where they would sexually assault and rape them.
Neither could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Robicheaux appeared in 2014 on the Bravo show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” which followed him as he looked for a girlfriend. He also was named “Orange County’s Most Eligible Bachelor” by Orange Coast Magazine in 2013. A Hoag Hospital profile describes him as an orthopedic surgeon who received his medical degree from Louisiana State University and did his residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who says he repairs sponsored athletes.
Rackauckas said detectives with search warrants found a video of the sex acts with one of the two identified victims. But he said they also saw what he describes as numerous other videos and photographs on the pair’s phones of other potential victims.
“There are a substantial number of videos. I cannot tell you if it is tens or hundreds, it is certainly more than tens,” the top prosecutor said in an interview. “It appears they are highly intoxicated beyond the ability to consent or resist, they are barely responsive to the defendants’ sexual advances,” he said.
Rackauckas said his office cannot make those images public, but everything suggests those women were also victims of assault.
Those videos were recovered this year by Newport Beach detectives. Some of the images come from festivals across the western U.S. including Burning Man and the Splash House in Palm Springs, Rackauckas said.
The couple now face multiple felony counts including rape by drugs, oral copulation by anesthesia and assault with intent to commit sexual offenses.
The surgeon and his girlfriend came to the attention of authorities when a young woman screamed for help and the physician’s neighbor called Newport police on Oct. 2, 2016.
A 32-year-old woman met the couple in a local restaurant in April 2016 and they invited her to a party, authorities alleged. She told authorities she consumed large amounts of alcohol before they invited her to Robicheaux’s residence for an afterparty. But once inside, prosecutors allege, they plied her with piles of drugs and then raped and orally copulated her.
The woman immediately contacted the police the next morning to report that she had been assaulted and a subsequent test of her blood showed multiple controlled substances in her body, Rackauckas said.
Prosecutors alleged Robicheaux and Riley struck again Oct. 2, 2016. They are accused of drinking alcohol with a second woman at a Newport Beach bar until the alleged victim was no longer conscious. They brought her to Robicheaux’s apartment and began “sexually assaulting her with the intent to commit rape,” officials said.
A subsequent search of Robicheaux’s home on Jan. 9. 2018, turned up large quantities of illegal drugs along with a small arsenal of firearms.
Rackauckas said those drugs included GHB, the so-called date rape drug, MDMA and cocaine.
Robicheaux is also accused of possessing two illegal, unregistered assault rifles, four other firearms and several large-capacity magazines.
Newport Beach police turned over their investigation Sept. 6 to prosecutors, who filed charges Sept. 11. The next morning, detectives arrested the couple.
The California medical board has opened an investigation into Robicheaux’s conduct.
Robicheaux and Riley are free on $100,000 bail each.
Asked why it took so long to arrest the couple given two reports to the agency in 2016, a Newport Beach police spokeswoman said the evidence initially did not meet the standard to make an arrest. “We had our suspicions but we didn’t have positive identity,” said Jennifer Manzella, a department spokesman. She said she could not address specifically what information the victims initially provided. But Manzella said detectives continued to work the case for two years.
On the Bravo show, Robicheaux talked to a female friend about the kind of woman he wanted to meet.
“I am not looking for a party girl. I am looking for a wife to raise a family with,” he said in a voiceover. “I just won the title of Orange County’s Most Eligible Bachelor,” he says as an image appears of a story about him in Orange Coast Magazine. The story notes he beat out nine other finalists. “I am trying to find that amazing beautiful woman.”
Robicheaux told viewers he is the son of a single parent, his parents are divorced and he wants to be married only once. He is then seen driving a sports car to his first online date at an upscale restaurant on the coast.
“I know how many kids I want. I want to have twins,” he told his date.
She told the interviewer later, “He seems a little too perfect. There might be some dark skeletons in that closet.”
5:20 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the Newport Beach police spokeswoman and comments by Robicheaux on the Bravo dating show.
This article was originally published at 4:35 p.m.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.