The decision caps a key part of a lengthy legal saga that drew international headlines for the splashy details befitting Robicheaux’s status as a short-lived reality TV star on the Bravo dating show, “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male.”
Spitzer said his predecessor, former Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas, used the case to drum up publicity for his 2018 reelection bid — which Rackauckas ultimately lost to Spitzer.
Rackauckas alleged at the time that Robicheaux and Riley used their good looks and charm to meet women at bars and parties before incapacitating then with date-rape drugs or alcohol and then raping them at Robicheaux’s apartment. Rackauckas pursued the case based on allegations that more than 1,000 videos and photos showed the pair sexually assaulting scores of women.
Spitzer said Tuesday that two veteran sexual assault prosecutors who spent more than three months fully reviewing the case turned up no such evidence.
“There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted. Not one,” Spitzer said in a Tuesday news conference announcing the case’s dismissal.
Philip Kent Cohen, Robicheaux’s attorney, praised Spitzer’s decision but lamented the impact that the false charges have had on Robicheaux and Riley.
“The mere filing of this case has destroyed irreparably two lives,” he told reporters Tuesday.
The announcement was met with disappointment by at least one of the alleged victims, whose attorney, Michael Fell, described the decision as devastating.
“My client believes with all of her heart she was sexually assaulted,” Fell told the Associated Press. “That doesn’t change what she went through.”
Two alleged victims came forward in 2016, creating the foundation for the original charges, and additional alleged victims came forward after Rackauckas publicized the case in 2018. At the time, the Newport Beach Police Department denied to The Washington Post that there had been a lull between the victims lodging complaints and the DA’s office bringing charges. The department insisted that the delay was because of the complexity of the investigation.
Spitzer renewed his claim Tuesday that Rackauckas aggressively prosecuted the case for political gain. He said the former DA admitted to investigators in a deposition last June that he anticipated publicity from the case and the prospect of it helping his reelection.
In a statement late Tuesday, Rackauckas defended his handling of the case and suggested to the Los Angeles Times that Spitzer’s move to drop charges was a “political vendetta against me.”
“Certainly, any prosecutor should think long and hard before dismissing such a case where multiple women have independently come forward and subjected themselves to the hard process of baring their souls to the authorities,” Rackauckas said. “I just hope they’re not being sold down the river for some twisted political motive.”
Robicheaux originally faced nine felony charges and the possibility of up to 50 years in prison. Riley faced seven counts and a maximum of 30 years.
The Orange County district attorney and sheriff’s office are dealing with the fallout from previous scandals and accusations of mishandling cases. The same day that Spitzer’s office made its announcement, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said both agencies were reviewing more than 22,000 criminal cases from March 2015 to March 2018.