Lawsuit Filed In opposition to the O.C. DA’s Workplace
In a lawsuit filed on April 5, an investigator for the Orange County District Legal professional’s Workplace accused her boss, DA Todd Spitzer, of sabotaging the case towards a distinguished Newport Seaside surgeon and his girlfriend, who’re accused of a number of drug-induced rapes. The investigator, Jennifer Kearns, started a probe into the couple, Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley, in late 2017. She had realized from Newport Seaside police that a number of girls reported changing into incapacitated after taking medication or alcohol supplied by the couple, and being sexually assaulted after they have been then too debilitated to withstand.
In late 2018, the investigation led by Kearns resulted in then-DA Tony Rackauckas’s determination to cost the couple for utilizing their beauty—and an array of mind-altering prescribed drugs—to lure unsuspecting girls again to their lair on Balboa Peninsula. Robicheaux, who was as soon as featured within the short-lived Bravo actuality TV courting present On-line Courting Rituals of the American Male, was accused of seven sexual assaults; Riley, his longtime girlfriend and co-defendant, a former trainer, was charged with sexually assaulting 5 girls. Two of the ladies reported being filmed by the couple within the act of their alleged assault.
With Kearns within the lead, a search of the couple’s swanky condo in early 2018 yielded a big amount of the so-called date rape drug GHB, in addition to hundreds of textual content messages, movies, and pictures taken from the couple’s telephones. On the time, Rackauckas was locked in a heated race for reelection and in jeopardy of shedding the workplace he had held for 20 years. A number of sources near the case say the proof doesn’t present sexual encounters between the defendants, nor does it present as many as a thousand girls in numerous states of incapacitation, as Rackauckas asserted in feedback in regards to the case that made headlines all over the world.
When Rackauckas misplaced his reelection bid and was changed by Spitzer in late 2018, Spitzer reversed course on the Robicheaux case, declaring that there was inadequate proof to show the case past an affordable doubt, accusing his predecessor and rival Rackauckas of “prosecutorial misconduct,” and even publicly apologizing to the defendants, whom he stated have been being prosecuted for his or her swinging way of life quite than any actual crimes.
Spitzer’s subsequent try and have the fees dismissed, nonetheless, was rebuffed by Orange County Superior Courtroom Decide Gregory Jones, who argued in June 2020 that the fees towards Robicheaux and Riley must be put earlier than a jury and never be dropped as a part of a “back-room dismissal.” Jones took the case away from the Orange County DA’s workplace and referred it for prosecution by the California Legal professional Common’s workplace.
Within the civil swimsuit filed towards the county final week, attorneys for Kearns allege that Spitzer “colluded with the protection whereas partaking in a concerted political marketing campaign to undermine the prosecution, discredit the victims, and in the end destroy the felony case towards the Legal Defendants.” In line with Kearns, a seasoned investigator, a “de novo” overview of the proof performed by Spitzer in late 2019 was “mere window dressing,” the result of which was predetermined to upend the prosecution.
Kimberly Edds, a spokesperson for the Orange County DA’s workplace, tells Los Angeles that prosecutors who have been members of the “de novo” overview workforce stated in a court docket submitting that their overview was “performed with out interference and with none pre-ordained conclusion” and was “primarily based on our honest—and persevering with perception that the totality of the proof on this case is inadequate to show the fees past an affordable doubt.”
Leon Web page, the County Counsel, tells Los Angeles that complaints like Kearns’s, involving unspecified cash damages for ache and misery, lack of wages, and attorneys charges, are usually referred to County Danger Administration and assigned to exterior counsel.
In an inside memo final July, Orange County DA Commander Clint McCall criticized the overview of the case to the top of the investigative bureau within the DA’s workplace, Chief Paul Walters, saying it was “incomplete and contained inaccurate and deceptive info,” the L.A. Instances studies.
In August 2020, Chief Walters of the investigative bureau within the DA’s workplace notified the State Legal professional Common’s Workplace of Kearns’s supposed misconduct within the Robicheaux case, alleging that she had gone “rogue” and had persuaded victims to slant their narratives towards the couple. In discussing the DA’s allegations of misconduct towards Kearns in his pivotal ruling that saved the case from being dismissed, Decide Jones discovered no fault with the investigator’s conduct.
Kearns says she was abruptly faraway from her function because the lead investigator on the Robicheaux-Riley case and positioned on a six-month administrative depart on January 30, 2020. In line with the lawsuit, Kearns’s efforts to research the case have been repeatedly thwarted by Spitzer, who additionally significantly decreased the sources out there for the investigation. Kearns additional alleges that Spitzer retaliated towards her by eradicating her from the investigation in January 2020 and placing her on administrative depart for greater than six months. He additionally eliminated lead prosecutor Jennifer Walker, a extremely regarded murder and intercourse crimes trial legal professional, whom he changed with two lesser-known prosecutors chosen to conduct the “de novo” overview.
Walker had unsuccessfully tried to have Spitzer held in contempt of court docket over a weird episode involving Spitzer within the warmth of the DA’s race in late 2018. Throughout a recess in court docket on the day Robicheaux and Riley have been arraigned, Spitzer stood exterior the Newport Seaside courthouse and accused his opponent of timing the arrests near the election for political benefit on the expense of public security. He handed members of the media copies of the search warrant affidavit that was underneath court docket seal on the time and included delicate particulars in regards to the rape allegations, together with the unredacted identify of one of many alleged rape victims. Spitzer stated on the time that he had gotten a duplicate of the warrant earlier than a choose had ordered it sealed.
Kearns is accusing Spitzer of retaliating towards her as a result of she dropped at mild proof towards the couple that didn’t swimsuit what she described as Spitzer’s “political agenda.” Within the criticism, she alleges that Spitzer’s private relationship with an legal professional on the protection workforce influenced the DA’s determination to drop the case. She additionally describes a tense work ambiance with Spitzer “overtly expressing contempt for the victims, whom he denigrated for ingesting alcohol, having consensual intercourse, and submitting a civil lawsuit, regardless of by no means bothering to fulfill them.”
Attorneys for Kearns say within the lawsuit that the 30-year law-enforcement investigator, who labored for 14 years within the sexual assault unit of the Lengthy Seaside police division, was “positioned on administrative depart with out clarification, she was stripped of her peace officer standing, and she or he was additional escorted out of the OCDA underneath a cloud of suspicion.”
Kimberly Edds of the Orange County DA’s workplace tells Los Angeles, “Anybody could make allegations in a declare, however these are usually not info. We stay up for litigating this in a court docket of regulation the place it belongs.”
Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Riley deny any wrongdoing. The following listening to within the case is scheduled for April 21.
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