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Attorney for 3 alleged victims of Newport Beach doctor accused of rapes requests special prosecutor

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Newport Beach surgeon Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, leave court Feb. 7 after Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones delayed a decision on dismissing rape charges against them.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

An attorney representing three alleged victims of a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend, who have been charged with drugging and raping multiple women, filed a motion Friday suggesting that the case be turned over to a special prosecutor or the state attorney general’s office instead of being dismissed, as the Orange County district attorney’s office has requested.

Matthew Murphy, a retired prosecutor in the district attorney’s office, now represents three women who say they were victimized by Dr. Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley. Murphy represented another woman in the case but withdrew as her attorney in November.

Murphy argued there are “at least eight and as many as 18 women who have provided substantially similar accounts of being sexually assaulted” by the defendants. “None of these women know each other,” Murphy added.

Robicheaux and Riley were charged in September 2018 with drugging and sexually assaulting multiple victims they met at social gatherings. Robicheaux is accused of 17 charges, including five counts of rape, and Riley faces 13 charges, including three counts of rape. Both have pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

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District Attorney Todd Spitzer argued in court Feb. 7 that the charges against Robicheaux and Riley should be dismissed because prosecutors cannot prove the case.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones delayed a decision on dismissing the charges and said he would return with a ruling April 3.

District Attorney Todd Spitzer wants to drop charges against Dr. Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, saying the case can’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. But people backing the accusers say they shouldn’t be cast aside.

“We respectfully submit there is substantial evidence of a concerted conspiracy between the defendants to meet, drug and rape vulnerable women,” Murphy said, adding that investigators recovered 119 grams of GHB, commonly known as a date rape drug, from Robicheaux’s home.

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Spitzer outlined in a news conference Feb. 4 how his office, after an exhaustive review of the evidence, couldn’t find any videos showing the defendants attacking the women. That was a stark contrast from his predecessor, Tony Rackauckas, who had said investigators had “thousands of videos” in evidence that showed there could be “hundreds” or “more than a thousand” victims.

Spitzer earlier asked the attorney general’s office to review whether the Orange County D.A.'s office had a conflict due to a political battle he had with Rackauckas, who brought the charges. Spitzer claimed Rackauckas was motivated to embellish the case in his unsuccessful reelection campaign against Spitzer in 2018. The attorney general’s office declined to take the case.

The alleged victims “have found themselves pawns in a political battle between two district attorneys they have never met,” Murphy said in his motion.

Murphy also accused defense attorneys of using a civil suit filed by one of the women to harass the others.

Murphy noted that one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit served a subpoena on a friend of one of the alleged victims, demanding any correspondence between the two.

In a motion filed Feb. 7, the attorneys mistakenly argued there were no more victims in the case because charges had been dropped.

The attorneys in the civil suit argued that the plaintiff is an “opportunist seeking to cash in on the notoriety of the criminal prosecution” and that she would use the claims from the other women to amplify her argument for damages.

Murphy’s motion called the claim of no more victims a “stunning display of procedural hubris” and said it indicated that the defense attorneys would “continue harassing the victims if the case is dismissed.”

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Attorneys representing the defendants did not respond to a request for comment.

Murphy argued there is enough evidence to proceed with the criminal case and said Jones has the latitude to assign a special prosecutor or turn over the case to the attorney general’s office. He also could direct the district attorney’s office to continue with the case, Murphy said.

Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the D.A.'s office, said: “Mr. Murphy did not give us the courtesy of providing ... a copy of his motion before he leaked it to the press. As such, we are unable to comment on his argument at this time. The court made it clear that he wanted any motions on this case filed under seal because it is presently under submission with the court. Mr. Murphy was present in court when that order was made by the judge.”

Murphy said his motion was not ordered sealed and noted that Spitzer gave him only a few minutes’ notice before his news conference explaining why he wanted to drop the charges.

“I simply extended them the same courtesy they extended my client,” Murphy said.

Daily Pilot staff contributed to this report.

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