Judge to decide whether Max Factor heir to go to trial for alleged rapes

VENTURA, Calif. - A judge will decide Thursday whether a millionaire cosmetics heir should be tried for allegedly drugging women with the date-rape drug GHB and raping and videotaping them in his beachfront home.

Andrew Luster, 36, a great-grandson of Hollywood makeup legend Max Factor, is being held in Ventura County Jail on $10 million bail, accused of 50 counts of kidnapping and rape in connection with alleged assaults on three women.

At Luster's preliminary hearing Thursday, prosecutors will present evidence that Luster should face trial on the charges that, if Luster is convicted, could earn him a sentence of life in prison plus 150 years.

From the cell where he is held 23 hours a day, Luster denied the accusations.

''This is ridiculous, overblown and outrageous,'' he told the Los Angeles Times. ''Prosecutors are just slinging as much mud at the wall as they can and seeing what sticks.''

Prosecutors paint Luster as a dangerous sexual predator with multiple victims in Ventura and Santa Barbara, with possible victims in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Authorities began investigating Luster in July after a 21-year-old woman accused him of drugging and raping her after she and a male companion met him in a Santa Barbara bar. Police allege that videotapes found in Luster's home show him having sex with unconscious women.

Joel Isaacson, one of Luster's attorneys, contends the women who appear in the videotapes are mostly former girlfriends, and only one appears to be in a state of ''questionable consciousness.'' He classified Luster's original accuser as a woman who willingly participated in an orgy and later regretted her actions.

''She did some things she was not proud of, having sex with two or three men. This is how she justified her conduct to herself,'' Isaacson said.

Friends and former girlfriends have characterized Luster, whose Malibu neighbors as a child included Barbra Streisand and Larry Hagman, as a low-key guy who loved outdoor sports, didn't talk about his famous family, and never used drugs.

Luster's famous great-grandfather, Max Factor, amassed a fortune selling cosmetics to the Hollywood elite. The family sold the business in 1973 for $480 million, and Luster's mother, Elizabeth, had homes in Malibu, Sonoma, Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades.

Estimates of Andrew Luster's fortune range anywhere from $2 million to $31 million. Since the age of 18, he has lived quietly in his oceanfront home in Ventura County and has spent his time traveling, surfing, and playing the stock market.

But now, Luster said, he occupies his time with thoughts of his two children, who he has not seen since his July arrest, and his case, which he contends is more complex than authorities lead the public to believe.

''This is not an open-and-shut case by any means,'' Luster said. ''That's what the prosecution would like people to believe, but it's not.''


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment