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California prosecutors seek to dismiss rape charges against surgeon William Robicheaux, girlfriend

No Comments National News

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Prosecutors are seeking to dismiss charges in a high-profile sexual assault case against a Southern California orthopedic surgeon and his girlfriend who were accused of kidnapping, drugging and raping several women in 2018.

Dr. Grant William Robicheaux, 39, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 32, were accused of targeting women on dating apps, in multiple cities, and then drugging and sexually assaulting them while they were unconscious or incapacitated. But the Orange County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday said there isn’t evidence to prove such a case against them.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said his office would seek to dismiss all charges against the couple and claimed his predecessor, Tony Rackauckas, mishandled the case.

Robicheaux had appeared on the Bravo TV reality show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” and Spitzer, who was running against Rackauckas when the charges materialized, accused Rackauckas of using the high-profile case for political gain during his campaign run.

Prosecutors initially said there were more than 1,000 videos to support the case, but on Tuesday Spitzer claimed said there was “not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted.”

The couple was charged with 17 counts each, with Robicheaux being charged in connection with seven victims and Riley in connection to five. They both pleaded not guilty.

Spitzer, elected in November 2018, said he ordered a new team of prosecutors to examine the case once he took over. They reviewed the charges and concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.

“What happened to their lives and how this case materialized is nothing short of a travesty,” Spitzer during a press conference Tuesday. “I didn’t create this situation, but it’s my responsibility to fix it.”

“This office will always be fair. We will never try to manufacture evidence, manipulate evidence, put on a case or do anything that’s not respectful of both the victims and the defendants,” he added.

He apologized to the alleged sexual assault victims in case, although he noted that some of the women only came forward after hearing the allegations to simply support other women.

“There’s nothing more difficult to now explain to victims that because of governmental overreaching they were used to enhance the facts of the case,” Spitzer said. “It was the misstatement of 1,000 victims that brought more than 100 phone calls into this office … it was the misstatement by this governmental agency that led to more people coming forward.”

He said his office plans to go to court “as soon as possible” to seek dismissal on all the charges. A lawyer for one of the victims, identified only as Jane Doe No. 4, said he would like an independent review of the case. He said his client would be devastated if the case was dismissed because, she maintains, she was sexually assaulted.

Philip Cohen, an attorney for Robicheaux, said the doctor’s life was ruined and his career will never be repaired. The medical board took away his license after he was accused. He said it’s highly likely Robicheaux will be taking legal action.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Parent responds with racist retort at school meeting: 'Why didn't you stay in Mexico?'

No Comments National News

RiverNorthPhotography/iStock(SALINE, Mich.) — A community in Michigan is reeling after video captured a man making a racist comment toward another parent at a meeting that had been called to discuss concerns about diversity and acceptance at schools.

Adrian Iraola was standing up with a microphone Monday, sharing a story with parents and school administrators, in Saline, Michigan, about how racism in the school had been affecting his child when he was interrupted.

“I remember when I went to his bedroom, to say good night, and he was crying because of the abuse that he was enduring in this school system,” Iraola, who is Latino, began at Liberty School.

Suddenly, as he was midsentence, a man behind him spoke out.

“Then why didn’t you stay in Mexico?” asked the man, who was identified by Ann Arbor News/MLive.comas Tom Burtell.

The video was taken and shared by Ann Arbor News/MLive.com.

The remark was met with audible gasps as parents and attendees turned around to look at Burtell, who is white.

“You need to leave,” a woman could be heard saying in the video obtained by ABC News.

“That’s disgusting,” another woman said.

Iraola is the father of two former students and said he came to the U.S. 40 years ago and owns three Mexican restaurants.

The school district, which is predominantly white, had no comment about the video Tuesday.

According to Ann Arbor News/M Live.com, the meeting on Monday had been called to discuss solutions after remarks made in a social media group in January by some high school students had been deemed an “act of racism” by administrators.

“On Monday, January 27, it was brought to the attention of our staff and administration that offensive and inappropriate racist comments using derogatory terms about African Americans were posted on social media by Saline High School students,” Superintendent Scot Graden said in a Jan. 27 letter. “Hate, prejudice and racism have no place in our schools or our community.”

Ann Arbor News/M Live.com said the high school students had used the “N-word” and included gorilla emojis in the chat. At Monday’s meeting, Iraola offered Burtell the microphone so he could speak but he declined.

“He asked me a question. … ‘Why didn’t I stay in Mexico?'” Iraola said. “Because this is the greatest country in the world.”

“But you’re complaining about being here,” Burtell said.

In another video posted by Arbor News/MLive.com, Burtell said he’d been a victim of racism “all the time.”

“Try being white and walk in a black neighborhood,” he told the parents. “See what happens.”

Tim Burtell, Tom’s son, told ABC News on Tuesday that none of his 10 siblings condoned their father’s actions.

“The only message I want to say is that our family condemns our father’s vile beliefs,” said Tim Burtell said in a statement to ABC News from all 11 children and their mother, Joanna.

Brian Wright, who said in another video posted by Arbor News/MLive.com that his son had been a victim of racist comments in school, called Burtell’s remarks during the meeting “flat-out racist” and said they were indicative of what children of color were dealing with every day.

Wright, who is black, encouraged the parents at the meeting to remember the feelings they experienced when they heard Burtell’s remarks.

“This is not an isolated event. And unfortunately, every time this happens, we treat it as an isolated event. We just had an outburst in here, all right? We all had some type of emotion. Regardless of what side you sit on, myself included, I’m still reeling from that emotion. Hold onto that. Because that’s what the minority kids are experiencing on a weekly basis,” he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'The Color Purple' returns to theaters in February in celebration of its 35th anniversary

No Comments Entertainment News

Warner Bros./Fathom Events/TCM(LOS ANGELES) — Ahead of its 35th anniversary in December, The Color Purple — which helped launch the acting careers of both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey — will return to theaters during Black History Month.

The film, which received 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, returns to theaters nationwide for the first time in over three decades on February 23.

The movie, based on an adaptation of Alice Walker’s classic novel, chronicles the life of Goldberg as Celie, a poor black woman in Georgia during the 1900s who’s sexually abused by her father and physically abused from her husband. Celie later befriends Sofia, played by Winfrey, and Shug Avery portrayed by Margaret Avery, which later turns into a romance.

Goldberg, Winfrey and Avery received Oscar nominations for their roles; Goldberg won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her portrayal in 1986.

The Color Purple will be available at more than 600 select movie theaters nationwide. Fans can purchase tickets at FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Go to FathomEvents.com for more information.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tortuga Music Festival unveils "Next from Nashville" lineup

No Comments Country Music News

Jason Kempin/Getty ImagesTenille ArtsCale DoddsBrandon Ratcliff and Hailey Whitters are among the up-and-coming country acts slated to appear at 2020 Tortuga Music Festival

The Florida-based festival has announced the lineup for the second annual “Next from Nashville” stage that offers a platform to several rising country stars. 

Chris Stapleton collaborator Kendell Marvel, new trio Avenue BeatNiko Moon and many others have also been tapped for the festival’s third stage.  They’ll perform alongside headlining acts Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw as the three-day festival takes over the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park in April.

The multi-genre soiree will also feature Kelsea BalleriniJon PardiPitbullVanilla IceBarenaked Ladies and more.

The Tortuga Music Festival takes place April 17-19.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Science says Robert Pattinson is the "most handsome man" in the world

No Comments Entertainment News

Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Well, Mother Nature must be Team Edward: science has declared Robert Pattinson is the world’s “most handsome man.” 

According to The Golden Ratio of Beauty Phi, a mathematical formula that’s been previously used to note that Bella Hadid is the “most beautiful woman in the world,” Pattinson’s facial symmetry and other attributes tip the scales in his favor, the Daily Mail reports.  

Pattinson’s eyebrows, eyes, jaw, nose, lips and general facial shape were compared to his celebrity counterparts, using an ancient technique artists have used to determine beauty since antiquity.

Based on these facial stats, an algorithm assigns a numerical value to a given person’s attractiveness — and at 92.15%, the star of the upcoming The Batman topped all others in his line of work. 

For the record, Hadid’s percentage was 94.35%.

Pattinson’s fellow Brit Henry Cavill came in second, with the former big-screen Superman scoring 91.64% perfect. 

Bradley Cooper logged 91.08, Brad Pitt a 90.51, and George Clooney rounded out the top five with 89.91%. 

Hugh Jackman scored 89.64%, David Beckham 88.965%. Idris Elba an 88.01%, Kanye West, 87.94%, and Ryan Gosling, 87.48%.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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