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7 More Women Accuse Date-Rape Suspect of Drugging Them

December 06, 2002|Tracy Wilson | Times Staff Writer

Seven more women have joined three alleged rape victims in accusing millionaire date-rape suspect Andrew Luster of drugging them at bars and parties, and, in one case, at a Las Vegas strip club.

Ventura County prosecutors want to call the additional women as witnesses when testimony in Luster's trial begins next week to show the 38-year-old bachelor's "penchant for preying upon incapacitated women."

But defense attorneys contend the women's statements are unreliable and should be excluded.

"It is a smear campaign," Santa Monica defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond argued Thursday in Superior Court. "These women do not claim to have had sex with Mr. Luster, or claim to have been raped by him."

The proposed testimony is speculative, overly broad and would lengthen the trial for months, if not years, Diamond argued.

However, prosecutors urged Judge Ken Riley to allow the women to testify, arguing that their accounts corroborate statements by the three alleged rape victims.

Prosecutors contend the testimony is highly relevant because it shows a pattern of conduct and establishes Luster's alleged motive. "The people intend to prove this defendant is a serial rapist, and he has a common design to incapacitate women," Deputy Dist. Atty. Anthony Wold argued.

The judge is expected to rule on the prosecution's request Monday.

According to court papers Wold filed in November, one woman told authorities she met Luster in 1998 at a downtown Santa Barbara bar, went back to his Mussel Shoals beach house, blacked out and awoke the next morning with no memory of what had occurred.

A UC Santa Barbara student reported a nearly identical story, Wold wrote.

Investigators also said they talked to a Las Vegas exotic dancer, who reported feeling dizzy and blacking out after Luster allegedly bought her a gin and tonic at a Nevada strip club in 1999.

"Simply put, the number of women who spend time with this defendant and wake up with the question 'What happened?' is nothing less than astonishing," Wold wrote.

"Many women aside from the ... victims have also had similar experiences of increased incapacitation, memory loss, blackouts and sexual conduct under highly questionable circumstances," the prosecutor stated in the court papers.

Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics magnate Max Factor, is charged with raping three women after rendering them unconscious with the date-rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB.

Luster was arrested in July 2000 after one of the women, a UC Santa Barbara student, reported being drugged at a Santa Barbara bar and raped at Luster's beach house.

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