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Millionaire goes on trial for date rapes

by MIKKI SMITH | July 6, 2001 | Page 2

VENTURA, Calif.--Andrew Luster, a 37-year-old heir to the Max Factor fortune, will stand trial on 87 counts of wrongdoing, including rape, sodomy, sexual assault, poisoning and drug and weapons possession.

Luster is accused of drugging women--and then videotaping himself as he sexually assaulted them. The case against him is based on three incidents where Luster allegedly gave gamma hydroxy butyrate, or "Liquid X," to three women, as well as the male companion of one. The drug left the victims unconscious or semiconscious. Luster then raped and assaulted the women.

The evidence against Luster comes from videotapes taken from his home. In one 25-minute videotape played during court hearings, Luster raped a young woman while she snored audibly. In another, Luster is seen penetrating an unconscious woman with various objects.

Luster is an unemployed surfer who lives off the family fortune. He claims that he's innocent--that his victims knew they were being drugged and consented to everything that appears on the tapes.

Luster's high-priced lawyer is pursuing a two-pronged approach--pleading that Luster has a right to "bedroom privacy" for his "alternative lifestyle" and smearing the women who've come forward to testify against him as vengeful ex-girlfriends or promiscuous "party girls."

Reports are spreading that Luster is part of a network of "millionaire bad boys" who share videotapes and photos of their sexual assaults.

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