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Jury Convicts Twin Brothers in Date Rape Drugging Case

Courts: They face long jail terms after being found guilty on 15 felony counts related to use of Rohypnol to incapacitate victims.

June 18, 1998|SUE McALLISTER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Santa Monica Superior Court jury convicted twin 41-year-old brothers Wednesday of using the so-called date rape drug Rohypnol to anesthetize five women and sexually assault them.

Nearly a dozen women who said they were victims of George "Gino" and Stefan "Julian" Spitzer listened in court, some weeping quietly, as the brothers were found guilty of a combined 15 felony counts.

The brothers, whose case focused international attention on the way sexual predators use Rohypnol, will face 60 and 30 years in prison, respectively, when they are sentenced July 2.

The Romanian immigrants shook their heads as the jury's verdicts were read, Stefan Spitzer occasionally glancing at George.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Stone said she was enormously relieved by the verdicts, which the jury reached after a four-week trial and a day and a half of deliberations. "We depended on a lot of women being very brave in coming forward," Stone said.

Although the crimes occurred between 1993 and 1996, prosecutors charged in court that the Spitzers had raped women as long ago as 1982.

George Spitzer was convicted of eight felonies, including kidnapping, sodomy and five counts of rape. Stefan Spitzer was found guilty of seven felony counts, which included rape, sodomy, penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery.

"I'm really just numb right now, but my faith is back, definitely, in the system," said Kimberly B., a victim in five of the counts against George Spitzer. "There are two more evil people off the street, and because of us ladies they can't hurt anyone else."

Kimberly, like the other 15 victims who testified, was not identified in court by her full name.

She went to sheriff's deputies in July 1996 to report she had been kidnapped at the end of a date with George Spitzer, whom she had met at a coffee shop. She suspected she had been drugged and possibly raped, but could not recall the details.

Armed with a search warrant, police raided the Spitzers' apartment and seized seven boxes of Rohypnol and 20 videotapes, which prosecutors say showed George Spitzer or his twin having sex with a dozen women, many of whom appeared to be drugged. There was no evidence that the brothers taped themselves having sex with the five women who brought the charges.

Rohypnol, a powerful drug known as "roofies," is legally prescribed as a sleeping aid and sedative for surgery patients in dozens of countries. It has been banned in the United States since 1996, emerging as a black market drug favored by some men because of the hypnotic state it induces.

Several women echoed Kimberly's testimony about being attracted to the dark-haired, dark-eyed, identical twin brothers who boasted of high-powered careers. They described the nightmare that followed: unwittingly consuming Rohypnol-laced drinks and awakening to discover they had been assaulted.

"After two years, I feel justice was done," said another woman who was drugged and raped by George Spitzer in 1996. "This devastated me emotionally. When I met him, I trusted him."

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