US & Canada

California couple deny mass drug rape allegations

Cerissa Riley and Grant Robicheaux Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Cerissa Riley and Grant Robicheaux may have met victims at music festivals, prosecutors say

A California couple accused of preying on two women, drugging and sexually assaulting them have denied the allegations, their lawyers say.

Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, have been charged with attacking two women they met at a bar and a restaurant in 2016.

But prosecutors say several thousand images on their phones suggest there could be "hundreds" more victims.

Mr Robicheaux and Ms Riley's lawyers say they plan to fight the charges.

"They have been aware of these accusations for a number of months and each of them will formally deny the truth of these allegations at their first opportunity in court," lawyers Philip Cohen and Scott Borthwick said in a joint statement.

"Dr Robicheaux and Ms Riley believe that such allegations do a disservice to, and dangerously undermine, the true victims of sexual assault, and they are eager to have the proper spotlight shed on this case in a public trial."

On Tuesday, a district attorney in Orange County said the couple worked in tandem to identify victims.

"We believe the defendants used their good looks and charm to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey," said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Image copyright YouTube
Image caption Grant Robicheaux once appeared on reality TV show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male

He added that prosecutors are now reviewing "thousands and thousands" of videos and images on their mobile phones.

The clips, the officials said, show women who "appear to be highly intoxicated beyond the ability to consent or resist, and they're barely responsive to the defendant's sexual advances".

Dr Robicheaux is a well-known orthopaedic surgeon and once appeared on the cable reality TV show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male.

Portions of the programme - in which he was described as the "total package"- were shown by prosecutors during their press conference on Tuesday.

Image copyright CBS

"I want to know what's wrong with you," Dr Robicheaux's first date told him over dinner in one episode, "because you seem, like, too perfect".

She told viewers something seemed strange about him and that "there might be some dark skeletons in that closet".

He was also named "Bachelor of the Year" by Orange Coast magazine in 2013.

Image copyright CBS
Image caption The couple are also accused of drug and weapons offences

Two women have accused the couple of rape and sexual assault after meeting them at a bar and a restaurant in Newport Beach, 45 miles (72km) south of Los Angeles, prosecutors say.

The pair were arrested earlier this month, and have since been released on bail.

Mr Robicheaux and Ms Riley are also accused of possessing a large quantity of drugs, including GHB (considered a date-rape drug), psychedelic mushrooms, ecstasy and cocaine.

Police said the illegal substances were found during a search of the surgeon's home in January 2018.

Mr Robicheaux is further accused of possessing two unregistered semi-automatic rifles, four other firearms and magazines capable of carrying large amounts of ammunition, according to a press release.

Police say the couple may have met victims at music festivals, and are appealing for anyone to come forward if they suspect they may have been attacked by Mr Robicheaux and Ms Riley.

The pair are due to be formally charged in court on 24 October.

If convicted, Mr Robicheaux and Ms Riley could spend 40 years and 30 years in prison respectively, according to the prosecutor.

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