SANTA ANA (CNS) - An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled today that investigators met their burden for probable cause when they obtained a 2018 search warrant in their investigation of a Newport Beach hand surgeon and his girlfriend accused of drugging and raping multiple women.
Attorneys for Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley argued that the warrant to search the residence at 202 44th St. for drugs and DNA should be quashed -- and anything found during the resulting search be deemed inadmissible. They argued that a detective ``misled'' a magistrate judge about the evidence and circumstances. They also contended that no crime was committed to justify the warrant.
The defense also argued the search warrant was ``stale,'' meaning it was sought too long after detectives responded to the claims of the women.
The attorneys also focused on what they characterized as subsequent shifting opinions on probable cause by Detective Marie Gamble that came to light in a related civil suit that a defense attorney has used to gather more evidence to defend his clients in the criminal case.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Fish rejected arguments from defense attorneys that sexual activity between the defendants and three women cited in the search warrant was consensual and that no crime was committed.
``A woman, or any participant, can limit or withdraw his/her consent at any time,'' Fish wrote.
The judge also noted that a victim can be so ``intoxicated to the point where she cannot resist, where she cannot consent or where she cannot withdraw prior consent. There is no such thing as advanced consent.''
Fish added, ``In any event, the consent arguments made by the defense do not detract from the finding made by the magistrate. The facts have to be viewed in their totality. Also, the criminality addressed in this specific statute ... concentrates on the woman's ability or capacity to give consent. It is illegal for a man to have sex with a woman who is incapacitated to give consent.''
Fish also said the search warrant was not ``stale'' because, ``DNA doesn't change, cell phone accounts from a particular time frame do not change, etc., the focus is on the narcotics.''
Defense attorneys contended the time frame from July 2017 through January 2018 ``negate the probability that the drugs will be there.'' But the judge added, it was not ``unreasonable nor illogical for the magistrate'' in this case to ``find probable cause that those items will be in existence at the locations referenced.''
Fish noted that according to the police reports, illicit drugs were alleged to be at the residence in April of 2016 and again in July of 2017 and that Robicheaux himself said the home was used ``as a place to `party' and sleep it off.''
One woman told police she met Robicheaux and Riley while drinking at a bar in Newport Beach and that despite being an experienced drinker, she became intoxicated beyond the level she expected given what she drank, according to the ruling. She also said she saw Riley ``drink something from a contact case and thought it odd.''
She said that when she went to their home, she was so drunk she needed help to get inside and that she was given an ``unknown powder and pill'' by Robicheaux, which relaxed her and made her drowsy, Fish wrote. The woman said she told the couple she was having her period, in an effort to prevent them from initiating sex, but Robicheaux had sex with her after her clothes were taken off and Riley filmed part of it, Fish wrote.
The woman said she had trouble recalling everything that happened, but she was able to dissuade Robicheaux from engaging in a particular sex act, but that she did not resist overall because she was afraid of angering the pair, Fish wrote.
The woman said she was given another powdery substance by Robicheaux and ``felt paralyzed and fell asleep,'' and she reported what happened to police because she felt she was drugged, Fish wrote.
In an another alleged incident in October 2016, a woman's loud screams spurred neighbors to call 911. That woman said she met the defendants at a bar, and at some point she felt as if she ``blacked out at the bar and awoke later on the floor of the residence associated with the defendants and remembers a man hitting her in the face and someone else kicking her in the head,'' Fish wrote. She told police someone was filming the incident.
Police who responded to the scene found she seemed heavily intoxicated, and when they tried to question her again moments later, she did not remember the initial interview, Fish wrote.
Another woman in July 2017 told police she had been raped. She said a day before she had consensual sex with both defendants and that she went to a concert the next day with the doctor, and they both did cocaine, Fish wrote.
Later, at his home, she did more drugs with him, including ketamine, and when they attempted to have sex he could not do so, the judge wrote. Riley gave the woman a drink and the trio went to a bedroom, where the woman ``blacked out'' and later woke up next to Robicheaux, Fish wrote. The woman said the drugs felt different than any of the drugs she commonly used, according to the judge.