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Judge rules against defense request for internal prosecution communications in sex-assault case against Newport Beach doctor and girlfriend

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Dr. Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, are pictured in court at their September arraignment.
(File Photo)

An Orange County Superior Court judge denied a request that lawyers for a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend accused of numerous incidents of sexual assault be granted access to internal communications from the county district attorney’s office that they said would form the basis for an argument to have the case dismissed.

The decision by Judge Gregory Jones was released Thursday.

Attorneys for Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley filed a motion in January seeking an order turning over communications among the district attorney’s office, its forensic lab and the Newport Beach Police Department that might explain the information that former District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had when he answered a reporter’s question in September by saying there were videos showing “possibly more than a thousand” victims.

“The request for ‘all communications’ is overbroad,” Jones said in his written ruling. “It would include discussions, formal or informal, involving lawyers and/or staff, memorialized or fleeting, founded on conjecture or fact, from the courtroom to the coffee room to the restroom.”

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Robicheaux’s attorney Philip Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, and Riley’s attorney Scott Borthwick was unavailable to comment.

In a lengthy hearing April 5, defense lawyers argued for why they were moving to obtain the verbal and written communications. Cohen said he sought to determine whether Rackauckas, who was district attorney at the time of the September news conference, had been accurately informed of the contents of reviewed videos or had personally reviewed the videos, or made the statement with no knowledge of what the materials contained. The communications requested in the motion could have formed the basis for an argument that the prosecution’s actions deprived the defendants of the opportunity for a fair trial by misrepresenting them to the media.

The case against Robicheaux and Riley includes seven alleged female victims.

Prosecutors said the wording of the reporter’s question prompted Rackauckas’ comment and suggested his estimate referred to the number of videos, not the number of victims. The district attorney’s office called the comment a misstatement that “has been corrected” and said the case was never based on videos or other electronic evidence.

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Robicheaux and Riley are scheduled to be back in court May 3.


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