Ventura County Superior Court Judge Ken Riley pronounced 39-year-old Andrew Stuart Luster a fugitive Monday morning after Luster failed to show up in court.
Luster, heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune, is charged with 87 criminal counts for sexually assaulting three women after allegedly giving the women the date rape drug gammahydroxybutyrate [GHB]. Ventura County Sheriff’s Dept. Public Information Officer Eric Nishimoto said they have not been able to locate Luster, who was released on bail for $1 million after he was arrested in July 2000. Luster’s initial bail was set at $10 million, however the court of appeals lowered his bail.
Luster’s defense attorney Roger Diamond said he wishes he could comment on his client’s whereabouts, however Judge Riley initiated a gag order on both the defense and Deputy District Attorney Anthony Wold about a year ago when proceedings began.
“As much as I would like to talk to you about this matter, a gag order remains, despite my objection to the judge,” he said. “Today, the judge partially lifted the gag order and is allowing the prosecution to talk, but not the defense. Therefore I must apologize, but I don’t want to violate that order.”
Luster now faces a warrant for his arrest with no chance of bail if he is found, Riley said. The suspect frequently attended clubs and bars in downtown Santa Barbara and Isla Vista. One of the victims was allegedly assaulted after having been drugged at the Wildcat Lounge in downtown Santa Barbara.
Dan, a manager from Isla Vista’s Study Hall who declined to provide a last name, said as a result of threatening incidents such as the one that occurred at the Wildcat, they have employed an ‘unattended drink rule,’ which requires an employee to throw out any unattended drink. If a customer objects, the Study Hall will issue a new drink; however, it will not give them the unattended drink.
“We may lose a little money doing this, but it’s worth the safety of our customers,” he said.
Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Wold was not available for comment.