Twelve more potential victims came forward this week after a couple in Southern California were charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women they met on social outings, authorities said.
Investigators in Orange County believe there could be many additional victims, based on finding hundreds of videos of women who appear to be highly intoxicated on a phone belonging to one of the suspects, Grant Robicheaux.
Since the charges against Robicheaux, 38, and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, 31, were announced Tuesday, at least 12 women have told the Orange County district attorney’s office that they, too, were victims, the office said Friday. Investigators have received calls from dozens of potential victims in recent days.
At a news conference Friday, Tony Rackauckas, the district attorney, urged women to come forward and vowed to safeguard the identities of those who did so.
Investigators believe that Robicheaux, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Riley, a teacher, targeted women while at bars, parties and festivals, including Dirtybird Campout in Silverado, California, and Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Some of the women said they had met the couple on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.
“Women who encountered these two might have felt a false sense of security, due to the fact that both defendants are clean-cut and good looking,” Rackauckas said at a news conference earlier in the week.
Robicheaux was charged with 13 felonies, including oral copulation with anaesthesia, and Riley was charged with 11 felonies. They were released from jail Monday after posting $100,000 bail each.
Robicheaux, whose practice is in Newport Beach, south of Los Angeles, appeared on an episode of the Bravo reality TV show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” in 2014. The alleged assaults did not take place at the clinic and did not involve drugs normally used during medical treatment, prosecutors said.
Lawyers representing the couple, Philip Cohen and Scott Borthwick, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In a statement to The Los Angeles Times, they said Robicheaux and Riley both “unequivocally” denied the accusations of sexual assault.
While authorities investigate additional allegations against the couple, the charges Robicheaux and Riley face stem from two alleged assaults in 2016.
In April of that year, the couple met a 32-year-old woman at a restaurant in Newport Beach and then invited her a few days later to party, authorities said. Back at the couple’s apartment, the woman, who was intoxicated, was sexually assaulted and incapable of resisting, according to the district attorney’s office.
In October 2016, the couple allegedly met a woman at a bar and drank with her until she became unconscious. Prosecutors say the couple sexually assaulted the woman and tried to rape her but she started to scream, prompting a neighbour to call 911. Officers with the Newport Beach Police Department responded.
During their investigation, authorities said they found hundreds of videos on Robicheaux’s phone that appear to show barely conscious women who would be unable to give consent or resist sexual advances.
During the couple’s encounters with women, Riley would try to make the victims feel comfortable and safe “because she was a woman,” Rackauckas said this week.
“People often assume that rapists are creepy, scary men who lunge out from hiding among bushes and attack unsuspecting women,” he said. “The reality is that rapists come from all socioeconomic groups and any background.”
While authorities often caution people, particularly women, to be aware of their surroundings while they drink, the district attorney said the victims were not responsible.
“We know some victims might blame themselves,” Rackauckas said. “They might feel there’s no crime to report because they knowingly drank or consumed illegal substances with the defendants. Your conscious decision to party with these defendants or with anyone using alcohol or any intoxicating substances does not give them a pass to rape or assault or have sex with you once you’re past the point of consent.”