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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
US millionaire denies 'drug-rape'

An American millionaire has pleaded not guilty to 40 charges in connection with three alleged rapes in which women were drugged.

The man, Andrew Luster, who is a great-grandson of the late cosmetics tycoon Max Factor, appeared in a California court on Tuesday.

I just had no idea I was a victim

Former partner of Andrew Luster
Mr Luster is currently in custody with bail set at $10m after prosecutors described him as a danger to women.

Prosecutors say he left a string of victims around the world.

British newspapers say that US police are investigating whether Mr Luster could be part of a transatlantic ring of "wealthy bad boys", because of an alleged date-rape case in London.

Sex, drugs and videotapes

The US prosecutors believe that the 36-year-old millionaire sedated women with so-called date-rape drugs such as GHB and then sexually assaulted and video-taped them at his beach house.

It's like we've just scratched the surface

Deputy District Attorney Becky Day
He currently faces charges related to attacks on three different women, but Californian police expect other victims to come forward.

"It's like we've just scratched the surface, " said Deputy District Attorney Becky Day.

When detectives searched Mr Luster's ocean-front home in Santa Barbara, they allegedly found photographs and videotapes, guns including an AK-47 assault rifle, several bottles of the drug GHB, and cocaine.

They say they also recovered photos and videotapes showing at least five semi-conscious women taking part in sex acts.

'Blown away'

One of the women, whose identity is being withheld, came forward to help the Californian police after hearing of Mr Luster's arrest.

The woman said she was shocked to learn that he had apparently assaulted her and videotaped the incident.

"I just had no idea I was a victim," she told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm completely blown away by this."

Mr Luster's lawyer said his client engaged in purely consensual sex and denied the charges.

British newspapers say that Californian police are to interview a British woman, Nina Richards, who believes that she was the victim of a drugged date-rape which might be recorded on Mr Luster's tapes.

British police officers have flown to California to interview a man in connection with her case.

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See also:

17 May 00 | UK
The date rape menace
02 Dec 99 | UK
The terror of drug rape
02 Dec 99 | UK
Drug rape menace growing
19 Feb 00 | Americas
Date-rape drug banned
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