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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Recorded Phone Call Revealed in Luster Case

August 18, 2000

VENTURA COUNTY — The lawyer for Andrew Stuart Luster acknowledged Thursday that authorities recorded a telephone call in which his client admitting giving an illegal sedative to a woman whose assault allegation launched a serial rape case against the 36-year-old millionaire.

But lawyer Joel Isaacson said Thursday that the conversation between Luster and the woman, recorded without Luster's knowledge the day before his July 18 arrest, should help his client more than it hurts him.

"It's probably the best thing going for us," he said.

In the phone call, laid out by authorities in a 33-page transcript, the woman asks Luster why and when he gave her the sedative, known as GHB, Isaacson said. Luster, an heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune, tells the 21-year-old he did so at her request, and that he did not slip any of the substance into her drink at a Santa Barbara bar where they met, Isaacson said.

"He does admit to later, they took it together and partied," Isaacson told The Times. "But not at the bar, absolutely not. And really, that's the thrust of the case."

The transcript was revealed during discovery in the case and is not being made available to the public. Sheriff's investigators and prosecutors have refused to discuss or even confirm the telephone call, although other court records refer to a call and detectives' involvement in it.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Dee Corona said that Isaacson "vastly understates the evidence in this case."

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