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Judge delays decision on dismissing sexual-assault charges against surgeon and girlfriend

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Feb 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-08 18:34:36-05

A judge in California has decided to table, for now, his ruling on whether a surgeon and his girlfriend accused in 2018 of kidnapping, drugging and raping several women will be exonerated, as requested by the district attorney's office.

Judge Greg Jones said on Friday that he needed a "better understanding of the facts and allegations."

"Prepare final argument briefs and submit them to the court so I can make an intelligent, meaningful and correct decision," he told lawyers during the contentious hearing, adding that politics had infected the case.

With Orange County district attorney Todd Spitzer seeking to dismiss the charges against them, Grant Robicheaux, 39, and Cerissa Riley, 32, had told ABC News' Kayna Whitworth, in an exclusive interview that aired Friday on "Good Morning America," they finally were beginning to feel relieved as their ordeal started to wind down.

A judge in California has decided to table, for now, his ruling on whether a surgeon and his girlfriend accused in 2018 of kidnapping, drugging and raping several women will be exonerated, as requested by the district attorney's office.

Judge Greg Jones said on Friday that he needed a "better understanding of the facts and allegations."

"Prepare final argument briefs and submit them to the court so I can make an intelligent, meaningful and correct decision," he told lawyers during the contentious hearing, adding that politics had infected the case.

With Orange County district attorney Todd Spitzer seeking to dismiss the charges against them, Grant Robicheaux, 39, and Cerissa Riley, 32, had told ABC News' Kayna Whitworth, in an exclusive interview that aired Friday on "Good Morning America," they finally were beginning to feel relieved as their ordeal started to wind down.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is seeking to dismiss all charges against the pair after saying that "not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted."

Spitzer has accused his predecessor of using their case as a political cudgel.

He released a new statement Friday stating that he “welcomes the opportunity to provide Judge Jones with a comprehensive briefing on all of the evidence of the case based on our appearance in court today.”

Prosecutors, led at the time by Tony Rackauckas, initially said there were more than 1,000 videos to support the charges. Spitzer, elected in November 2018, later said: "I didn't create this situation, but it's my responsibility to fix it."

"What happened to their lives and how this case materialized is nothing short of a travesty," Spitzer said at a press conference on Tuesday.

After the judge's ruling Friday, Michael Fell, the lawyer for Jane Doe #4, one of the seven women alleging sexual assault by the couple, said his client had been texted with the "good news."

"What I thought was so wonderful for victims' rights is Judge Jones made a ruling today saying I want to hear facts from the defense, I want to hear facts from the prosecution and I want to hear facts from the victim," Fell told ABC News after the hearing. "What this does is, it's giving her a voice. So regardless of what happens, she's having that right."

Robicheaux, who appeared on the Bravo TV reality show "Online Dating Rituals of the American Male," lost his medical license after the accusations became public. He may be considering legal action.

"That's why we're here today. I don't want this to happen to anybody else. It can't," he told Whitworth.

Spitzer's vow to toss the charges against Riley and him "restored a little bit of faith in a system that I felt was completely failed, and had failed me," Robicheaux added. "This day and age, so few people actually do what they say they're going to do and stand up for the things they say they believe in. ... It's rare that people do the hard thing and do the right thing."

At Friday's hearing, before the judge's decision, a victim advocate read a statement from Jane Doe No. 1, an alleged victim who was included in the seven women that the couple was charged with sexually assaulting. The accuser was supposed to testify at trial.

"One of the worst days of my life was when I was raped by Grant Robicheaux," the statement read. "It is difficult to describe what I have gone through as a result of this experience."

The accuser said she was a first-year law student when the incident occurred and initially had opted not to report it out of fear that it would ruin her future career. She said she also feared breaking her father's heart and being judged. Nine years later, in September 2018, she was watching the news and saw that Robicheaux was being accused of rape.

"I saw his mugshot and his name," the accuser said. "I jumped up from my chair, ran to my office door and slammed it shut. I stood with my back to my door. I started to crumble to the floor. I can't put into words the feelings I experienced. Shock. Horror. Numbness. I struggled to catch my breath. I knew this would happen, but I was still in complete shock. And then, this tremendous feeling of guilt set in … responsibility for the victims. This was on me. Every victim that was raped by Robicheaux after 2009 was on my hands too. I didn't stop him when I could, and I am forever so incredibly sorry to the women that came after me."

The accuser said she had learned about the prosecution's decision less than 10 minutes before Tuesday's news conference. In her statement, she asked the court to "take some time and consider not dismissing" the case.

"While I do not know Mr. Spitzer's motivations, and I desperately want to believe they are earnest, I know what happened to me. And I firmly believe there is powerful evidence of a crime here. There are seven victims with their fingers pointing at Robicheaux," the statement read. "I know what happened to me, and nobody ... can tell me I'm wrong. If the court does dismiss this case, I urge the Attorney General's Office to review this matter to determine whether Mr. Spitzer's assessment of the case is accurate -- because I assure the AG's office, it is not. ... Please speak to the victims. Please do something."

The next hearing was scheduled for April 3.