US surgeon and girlfriend suspected of multiple drug rapes

image copyrightPolice handout
image captionCerissa Riley and Grant Robicheaux may have met victims at music festivals, prosecutors say

A California surgeon and his girlfriend have been charged with two sexual assaults, and investigators suspect there could be "hundreds" more victims.

Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, allegedly attacked two women they met at a bar and a restaurant in 2016.

Prosecutors told the BBC "thousands and thousands" of videos of potential victims were on the defendants' phones.

Investigators are trying to identify the women in the clips.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the pair were suspected of using their "clean-cut" looks to lure targets into a false sense of security.

"We believe the defendants used their good looks and charms to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey," he said, reports KTLA-TV.

image copyrightYouTube
image captionGrant Robicheaux once appeared on reality TV show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male

He added: "There are several videos where the women in the videos appear to be highly intoxicated beyond the ability to consent or resist and they are barely responsive to the defendants' sexual advances.

"Based on this evidence we believe there might be many unidentified victims out there."

Mr Robicheaux is an orthopaedic surgeon from Newport Beach, 45 miles (72km) south of Los Angeles.

He once appeared on the Bravo cable network's reality TV show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male.

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Investigators say the pair worked "in tandem" to meet women at bars, drug them or coerce them to drink large amounts of alcohol, and then bring them back to Mr Robicheaux's apartment to be assaulted.

Two women have alleged encounters with Mr Robicheaux and Ms Riley two years ago.

The first said she met the pair at a restaurant on 10 April 2016 and was invited by them to a boat party.

image copyrightCBS
image captionThe couple are also accused of drug and weapons offences

Once intoxicated, the 32-year-old was allegedly taken back to Mr Robicheaux's apartment and raped.

She contacted Newport Beach police the following day and tested positive for a number of unspecified drugs, the prosecutor said.

Both defendants are accused of rape by use of drugs in that case.

On 2 October 2016, another woman said she woke up in Mr Robicheaux's apartment after a night of drinking, and screamed for help until his neighbours called police.

That woman told police she had been drinking at a bar in Newport Beach with the couple until she lost consciousness.

Both defendants are accused of sexual assault with intent to commit rape in that case.

image copyrightCBS
image captionMr Robicheaux and Ms Riley are accused of possessing the date-rape drug GHB

Investigators say they have recovered video of one of the two women being assaulted.

Mr Robicheaux and Ms Riley are 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.

Newport Beach police passed the case for review to the Orange County district attorney on 6 September, and the couple were arrested at the man's home last Wednesday.

The district attorney said the state's medical board has opened an investigation into Mr Robicheaux, but there is no evidence so far that any of his patients could be victims.

Officials say the couple have attended music and art festivals such as Burning Man in Nevada and the Splash House Festival in Palm Springs, California.

Both of the accused have been freed on $100,000 (£76,000) bail bonds.

"We've all heard of a wolf in sheep's clothing," said the district attorney.

"Well, a wolf can wear scrubs or doctor's clothing. Or a wolf can be a beautiful woman."

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

Mr Rackauckas added: "People often assume that rapists are creepy, scary men who lunge out from hiding amongst bushes and attack unsuspecting women.

"The reality is that rapists come in all socioeconomic groups, of any background."

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

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