US surgeon, girlfriend charged with rape, ‘hundreds’ of victims possible

This combination of photos created on September 18, 2018 shows Grant William Robicheaux (L) and Cerissa Laura Riley (R) in mug shots photos released by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, California. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2018
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US surgeon, girlfriend charged with rape, ‘hundreds’ of victims possible

  • Robicheaux and Riley are believed to have worked in tandem at restaurants and bars to identify their victims and make them feel comfortable
  • “Your conscious decisions to party with these defendants... does not give them a pass to rape, assault or have sex with you once you’re past the point of consent”

LOS ANGELES: An orthopedic surgeon in California who once appeared on a dating reality show and his girlfriend have been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women, in a case prosecutors suspect might involve hundreds of other victims.
Authorities told AFP on Tuesday they had received dozens of leads in the probe, just hours after a press conference held to try to encourage other women to come forward.
“I am being told by investigators that their phones have been very active this afternoon,” said Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokeswoman for Orange County prosecutors.
“People are calling with additional information and we will be busy tracking down all the additional leads.”
The surgeon, 38-year-old Grant William Robicheaux, and his 31-year-old girlfriend, Cerissa Laura Riley, were charged on September 11 with rape as well as drug and weapons-related offenses in connection with two alleged assaults.
But investigators found hundreds of videos on Robicheaux’s phone after he was arrested, showing women “in various states of undress, consciousness and being assaulted,” Van Der Linden said. “We’re still going through those videos.”
Robicheaux — who once appeared on the Bravo television show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” — and Riley are due to be arraigned on October 25.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters that Robicheaux and Riley are believed to have worked in tandem at restaurants and bars to identify their victims and make them feel comfortable.
“We believe the defendants used their good looks and charm to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey,” Rackauckas said.
“We’ve all heard of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Well, a wolf can wear scrubs or doctor’s clothing. Or a wolf can be a beautiful woman.”
The pair apparently used ecstasy, date rape drugs and cocaine to incapacitate their victims before assaulting them at Robicheaux’s home in Newport Beach, he said.
Authorities say Robicheaux and Riley traveled to various festivals since 2015, including Burning Man in Nevada, as well as landmarks in Arizona, where they may have preyed on other women.
Attorneys for Robicheaux and Riley issued a joint statement on Tuesday, denying 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,” said Robicheaux’s lawyer, Philip Cohen, and Riley’s lawyer, Scott Borthwick.
“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,” they added.
“It must be noted that none of the allegations in this matter relate to or concern Dr. Robicheaux’s medical practice or patients in any way.”
If convicted, Robicheaux faces up to 40 years in prison. Riley could face 30 years behind bars.
Rackauckas said potential victims of the pair should not be ashamed to come forward.
“Your conscious decisions to party with these defendants... does not give them a pass to rape, assault or have sex with you once you’re past the point of consent,” he said.


’Benny the Beluga’ facing Christmas in the Thames far from home

Updated 54 min 15 sec ago
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’Benny the Beluga’ facing Christmas in the Thames far from home

  • A beluga whale that was first spotted nearly three months ago in the River Thames is still feeding healthily

LONDON: A beluga whale that was first spotted nearly three months ago in the River Thames is still feeding healthily east of the British capital and facing a lone Christmas hundreds of miles from its normal Arctic habitat.
The white cetacean, which feeds on fish, squid and crabs, was first spotted in September and surfaced near Gravesend, Kent on the southern side of the estuary.
The last spotting of the whale, dubbed Benny the Beluga by the British media, was on Dec. 12 east of Gravesend, said a spokesman for the Port of London Authority which oversees the river.
“The whale pops up, and I am not exaggerating, for literally three to four seconds and then he disappears for 10 or 15 minutes and he moves in a wide, dark river, so you see how hard it is to track his precise location,” the spokesman said.
“This whale in its natural environment in the Arctic is a diverse feeder – so it is not a fussy eater,” the spokesman said. “The Thames is much cleaner now so there are more fish stocks.”
The beluga appears to be healthy, he added.
The last sighting of beluga whales in UK waters was in 2015 when they were spotted off northeastern England near the Northumberland coastline, but they left shortly afterwards.
Belugas, which can grow up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) long, spend most of their time off the coasts of Alaska, Canada and Russia, though they often travel great distances in search of food.