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The BBC's David Willey in Los Angeles
"GHB is very fast to work, and equally fast to wear off"
 real 28k

Ventura County lawyer Wendy Lascher
"There is a crime defined in California as rape by intoxication"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 00:36 GMT 01:36 UK
Millionaire fights 'drug rape' charges
Andrew Luster
Mr Luster has been in custody since July last year
By David Willis in Los Angeles

An heir to the multi-million dollar Max Factor cosmetics fortune has made a brief appearance in a California court to face 87 charges of date rape.

It is alleged Andrew Luster gave his victims a drug before videotaping his assaults. He denies the charges.

The case against him was adjourned for another two weeks to allow his lawyers more time to prepare their defence.

Prosecutors here have branded him a playboy predator and a serial date rapist whose activities may have spanned the globe.

He was arrested after a woman he met in the Californian college town of Santa Barbara went to the police.

She alleged he had drugged and then raped her, spiking her drink with a substance known as gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, a so-called date rape drug which rapidly renders its victims unconscious.

International ring

When police raided Mr Luster's beachfront home, they say they found numerous videotapes of him having sex with apparently unconscious women, many of whom have yet to be identified.

He is currently under house arrest, having been released from prison on bail of $1m.

Detectives are investigating the possibility that Mr Luster could have been part of an international ring of playboy millionaires known as the bachelors, who, it is said, trade film of their date rape attacks over the internet.

Two and a half years ago, a British woman claimed that she had fallen victim to such a gang, telling police she had been raped in a London hotel after GHB was slipped into her drink.

Mr Luster denies the charges against him; he says the women on the videotapes were engaged in consensual sex, and that they had taken GHB as an aphrodisiac.

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See also:

02 Aug 00 | Americas
US millionaire denies 'drug-rape'
02 Dec 99 | UK
Drug rape menace growing
02 Dec 99 | UK
The terror of drug rape
19 Feb 00 | Americas
Date-rape drug banned
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