A judge has recused himself from the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman after she was found unconscious in an Irvine park.
The recuse meaning is a verb that means to remove oneself from a situation. A judge in the high-profile sexual assault case has recused himself because of an ethical conflict.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (CBSLA) — Judge Steven D. Bromberg of Orange County Superior Court suddenly resigned from a high-profile case involving a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend accused of drugging and raping numerous women.
Judge Bromberg has been chastised for mistreating both parties’ lawyers.
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Dr. Grant Robicheaux, a 40-year-old hand surgeon, and Cerissa Riley, 34, have been charged with drugging and raping numerous women. (CBSLA)
After numerous court sessions featuring tense confrontations between Bromberg and prosecutors, attorneys for Dr. Grant Robicheaux, a 40-year-old hand surgeon, and his 34-year-old girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, filed a petition on July 20 seeking to have the judge disqualified.
Bromberg’s decision was not immediately apparent if it was in reaction to the defense petition, but it came only weeks before he was set to determine whether to accept a request by the California Attorney General’s Office to substantially reduce the couple’s criminal charges.
Bromberg accepted prosecutors’ plea to drop charges against two alleged rape victims in the case earlier this month. Prosecutors said both stated they no longer wanted to participate.
Attorneys highlighted a heated June discussion in which the judge questioned whether the prosecutors were competent of handle the case, stating that there were “probably not a lot of sexual assault cases up there” in Marin County where one had previously worked.
The defense attorneys also claimed that Bromberg was biased against the defense team’s attorney, Philip Cohen, by saying he had misrepresented the law and the facts of the case, which they claimed was “an assertion of intentional malfeasance against Robicheaux’s attorney made in front of the press and the public.”
The defense petition claimed that “such prejudice, whether actual or perceived, certainly prevents these defendants from achieving the appearance of a fair hearing or a fair trial before this judge.”
According to the Register, Bromberg did not provide a reason for his recusal.
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The lawsuit was first brought in 2018 by then-Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who accused Robicheaux and Riley of meeting women in Newport Beach restaurants and bars, then drugging and enticing them to the doctor’s apartment to sexually attack them.
Riley and Robicheaux, who both featured on Bravo’s “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” in 2014, have both rejected the accusations.
Current Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer later stated that there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case and accused Rackauckas, a political rival, of mishandling the investigation, referring to Robicheaux and Riley as swingers who engaged in consensual sexual encounters and drug use.
Prosecutors previously said that they want to limit the charges to only one alleged victim.
The state Attorney General’s office, which took over the case from the Orange County district attorney in 2023, submitted a petition in May seeking for the discharge of ten counts against six of the seven alleged victims.
“We have no reason to think that any of these victims are lying,” state prosecutors stated, but a study revealed that certain claims could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Currently, Robicheaux is charged with five alleged victims, while Riley is charged with three alleged victims. The case’s next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.
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(CBS Broadcasting Inc., Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved.) This article was written with the help of City News Service.)