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Ventura County

Millionaire's Date-Rape Trial Delayed

July 02, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A trial date for date-rape suspect Andrew Luster has been postponed for three months as lawyers continue to fight over the existence and availability of evidence.

Defense lawyers contend that Ventura County prosecutors are withholding evidence that could exonerate their 38-year-old millionaire client and prove allegations of police and prosecutor misconduct.

"We think Mr. Luster--an innocent man--was framed by the sheriff and the district attorney," lawyer Richard G. Sherman said.

"God forbid this is the way every case is handled in Ventura County," the Los Angeles-based attorney said. "This is a travesty."

The trial had been scheduled for July 17. Sherman and co-counsel Roger Jon Diamond told Ventura County Superior Court Judge Ken Riley that delays in the case can be attributed to prosecutors refusing to give them tapes, photographs and other materials.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Anthony Wold told the judge that the items sought by the defense either have been provided or do not exist.

The dispute, which has been going on since the start of the year, prompted Riley to postpone Luster's trial until Oct. 28. The judge told the defense lawyers to provide him with a detailed list of the items they are seeking.

Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics magnate Max Factor, is accused of raping three women after rendering them unconscious with a date-rape drug known as gamma hydroxybutrate, or GHB.

Luster was arrested in July 2000 after one of the women reported being drugged at a Santa Barbara bar and raped at his Mussel Shoals beach house. During a search of the home, detectives found videotapes that allegedly depict Luster engaging in sex acts with two unconscious women.

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