Husband of Ex-Substitute Teacher Accused of Assaulting Women with Reality Doctor Says, 'She's Not a Monster'
Cerissa Riley, charged with raping a woman with Dr. Grant Robicheaux, is "a good person," says her estranged husband, who is shocked by the allegations
Surprise, fear, concern and — still — affection: When Chad Riley talks about his wife, Cerissa Laura Riley, and the “shocking” rape allegations against her, he cycles through various emotions.
“She literally is an amazing human being. She is a good person,” Chad tells PEOPLE.
“This is very shocking,” he says. “It’s very scary and weird.”
He and Cerissa, high school sweethearts, were already going through a divorce when he learned that she and her boyfriend, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Grant Robicheaux, had been accused of multiple sexual assaults in Orange County, California.
According to prosecutors, Cerissa, 31, and the 38-year-old Robicheaux in essence used their looks and charm to put woman at ease in social settings — then abused them at Robicheaux’s home once they were too incapacitated by drugs or alcohol to resist.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has spoken starkly about the case, describing the suspects as purusing their “prey,” whom they may have “targeted” online. An alleged victim described them as a “Bonnie and Clyde team,” according to the Los Angeles Times, citing court documents.
“A wolf can wear scrubs or doctor’s clothing,” Rackauckas said last week. “Or the wolf can be a beautiful woman.”
• For more on what authorities say were Dr. Robicheaux’s dark secrets with his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
Robicheaux is a prominent area doctor who in 2014 appeared on the short-lived Bravo reality dating series Online Dating Rituals of the American Male. In 2013, he was named “Bachelor of the Year” by Orange Coast Magazine.
Cerissa is a former substitute teacher who last worked in one local district in 2016. She has reportedly also been employed as a dance instructor and in sales.
She and Robicheaux are charged with two alleged assaults in 2016 but authorities have said they are reviewing video evidence suggesting there are “many” more victims, and they have received dozens of calls.
Both Cerissa and Robicheaux forcefully denied the accusations against them and their attorneys, Philip Cohen, Scott Borthwick, and Shawn Holley, have cast doubt on the specter of multiplying victims.
“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,” the defense said in a Friday statement. “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.”
While Robicheaux’s defense team reiterated that he is not accused of misconduct in connection with his patients, the state’s medical board confirms it is “looking into the matter.”
Speaking with PEOPLE, Cerissa’s husband says the “whole family is shaken up by the case.”
“We love her,” Chad says. “She’s not a monster.”
His words contrast sharply with what authorities have found in their two-year investigation.
On Sept. 11, Robicheaux was charged with rape by use of drugs, oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance, assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, possession of a controlled substance for sale and possession of an assault weapon, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Cerissa, also charged on Sept. 11, faces the same felony counts as Robicheaux with the exception of possession of an assault weapon.
Chad says he spoke briefly with Cerissa since she has been charged and she asked for his support.
He remembers she told him, “Please respect me.”
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON