An ex-district attorney in California fabricated a story about a surgeon and his girlfriend raping numerous women in an attempt to help his re-election campaign, his successor said as he announced plans to drop the criminal charges against the couple.
Former Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas accused Grant Robicheaux, 39, and Cerissa Riley, 33, in 2018 of drugging and raping hundreds of women. Rackauckas is an orthopedic surgeon in Newport Beach.
"There are thousands and thousands of videos and images on Robicheaux's phone, many also including Riley, which we are now meticulously going through," Rackauckas said at a press conference at the time. "There are several videos where the women in the videos appear to be highly intoxicated, beyond the ability to consent or resist, and they're barely responsive to the defendants' sexual advances. Based on this evidence, we believe that there might be many unidentified victims out there."
Robicheaux and Riley were formally accused of drugging and sexually assaulting seven women and aced up to life in prison for what prosecutors initially characterized as a horrendous rampage of sexual violence.
But now the new Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is saying none of that is true.
Spitzer announced Tuesday that all criminal charges will be dropped against Robicheaux and Riley. He ordered a reevaluation of the charges after Rackauckas allegedly admitted in a sworn deposition last June that “he had used the case to garner media attention to help his re-election campaign.” Rackauckas left office last year after failing to win a re-election.
Over the course of three months, two experts described as “veteran sexual assault prosecutors” reviewed thousands of photographs, videos, and chats, hundreds of hours of audio recordings and numerous other pieces of evidence related to the case.
The “exhaustive review revealed there was not a single video or photograph depicting an incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted by Robicheaux or Riley," Spitzer stated in his press release. "In fact, the review revealed that there was not a single independent witness who came forward to say they saw the defendants sexually assault an unconscious woman.”
Furthermore, he stated “there is no provable evidence that Robicheaux and Riley committed any sexual offense."
“The prior District Attorney and his chief of staff manufactured this case and repeatedly misstated the evidence to lead the public and vulnerable women to believe that these two individuals plied up to 1,000 women with drugs and alcohol in order to sexually assault them – and videotape the assaults.”
He called his predecessor's alleged actions “a travesty.”
Rackauckas has not publicly responded to the allegations.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Robicheaux said the damage is already done to his client and Riley.
“I don’t want to be overly dramatic or hyperbolic, but the mere filing of this case has destroyed irreparably two lives,” defense attorney Philip Cohen told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cohen said he hopes the new DA's announcement can help repair their reputations.
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