VENTURA, Calif. (AP) – A jury on Tuesday convicted fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster on charges of raping three women, including a UCSB student in 2000.
The Ventura County Superior Court jury found the millionaire great-grandson of Max Factor guilty of 86 counts, which included rape, sodomy, drug and weapons possession, and poisoning. The jury deadlocked on one count of poisoning one of the victims.
On Jan. 3, during a two-week trial recess, Luster, 39, took his German shepherd and collection of Chumash Indian artifacts and fled in his sport utility vehicle, authorities said.
The dog was later found at Luster’s mother’s home in Sonoma, and his vehicle was found Sunday in Santa Monica, but authorities said they had no clue as to Luster’s whereabouts.
The three-week trial continued without Luster, and in closing arguments prosecutor Tony Wold said the disappearance pointed to guilt.
“Innocent people don’t run,” Wold said to the jury.
Luster was an avid surfer and had an oceanfront home in Mussel Shoals, near Ventura.
It was there, authorities said, that he took three women in 1996, 1997 and 2000 and raped them after rendering them compliant or unconscious by doping them with gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as GHB.
Luster was arrested in July 2000 after a 21-year-old UCSB student told police he had drugged and assaulted her.
Prosecutors said Luster spiked a glass of water with GHB and that the woman became dizzy. At the trial, the woman testified that she and a male friend went to Luster’s home, where he raped her in a shower and a bedroom while she was too groggy to resist.
During a search of the home, authorities found other videotapes of Luster apparently having sex with sleeping or unconscious women.
In one videotape shown to the jury, a 17-year-old girl appeared to be asleep and snoring on a bed. Luster, sitting next to her, stated, “Some people dream about Christmas, Thanksgiving. I dream about this. A strawberry blonde, beautiful girl passed out on my bed and basically there for me to do with whatever I chose.” He is then seen performing various sex acts with the girl, who remains limp.
Two of the women in the videotapes testified at the trial that they willingly took drinks laced with GHB from Luster but never consented to sex.
The defense argued that the women were party girls and disgruntled ex-girlfriends who had consented to sex. Also, Luster was depicted as a would-be pornography producer; the defense team described the women in the videotapes as actresses pretending to be asleep.
The prosecutor scoffed at the contention, noting that the defense never produced any contracts with actors or advertisements for the videotapes.