Witness Tells of Rapes, Spiked Drink
Serial rape suspect Andrew Luster admitted slipping a knockout drug into a UC Santa Barbara student’s drink moments before he pushed her down and raped her two years ago, the woman testified Wednesday.
“He smiled and said, ‘It’s liquid Ecstasy. Don’t you like it?’ ” said the 23-year-old woman, identified as Carey Doe.
Speaking barely above a whisper, the woman testified that Luster, the 39-year-old great-grandson of cosmetics legend Max Factor, raped her three times over a period of hours after meeting her and a male classmate at a Santa Barbara bar and driving them to his oceanfront home near Ventura.
The college student reported the July 2000 encounter to Ventura County law enforcement officers, who arrested Luster after searching his home and recovering videotapes that allegedly depict the 1996 and 1997 rapes of two comatose women.
Luster’s trial on 87 criminal counts, including rape and sodomy of unconscious victims, drug possession, poisoning and sexual battery, resumed this week without him.
The surfer allegedly jumped his $1-million bail Friday during a two-week break in the proceedings and fled the country.
Investigators continued to search for him Wednesday as Ventura County prosecutors moved forward with the case in his absence.
Prosecutors contend that Luster used the date-rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as GHB and liquid Ecstasy, to render women unconscious for sex.
Defense attorneys, however, contend that all three women consented to taking the drug and having sex, and they have characterized the videotapes as homemade porn that Luster intended to sell on the Internet.
They also have suggested that the purported victims are party girls who are lying because they are embarrassed by their behavior.
During questioning by prosecutor Maeve Fox on Wednesday, Carey Doe acknowledged drinking heavily the night she met Luster at O’Malley’s, a popular college bar on State Street.
She consumed three beers, two Long Island iced teas and a cosmopolitan before dancing up a sweat with her friend, David, she said. But it was after chugging a glass of water handed to her by Luster, a man she had just met at the bar, that she began to have trouble standing, she testified.
She does not remember agreeing to leave with Luster and has only a faint memory of crawling into his green Toyota SUV and heading to his house in Mussel Shoals.
Once there, she testified, she remembers walking onto a pier, taking off her dress and jumping into the surf.
“I wasn’t logically thinking at that point,” she said, telling jurors she felt “like a robot.”
After swimming to shore, Doe said, her friend, David, helped her out of the ocean and Luster led them to his house, where he started her a warm shower.
She testified, “The next thing I remember is Mr. Luster came up behind me.” She told jurors that Luster pushed her against the tiled shower wall and began to have sex with her against her will. She said she felt groggy and doesn’t remember if she resisted. “I was trying to hold myself up .... I don’t know.”
It was later, she said, after getting out of the shower and sitting on Luster’s bed, that he handed her an orange fruity-tasting beverage, which she gulped down. He acknowledged it was spiked with liquid Ecstasy, and then had sex with her before she blacked out entirely, she said. They had sex again in the morning, and she said she felt too weak to resist.
“Did you want Mr. Luster to have sex with you?” Fox asked her.
“No,” she said, telling jurors she was scared of Luster and believes he drugged her.
The defense will begin its cross-examination of Doe today.
In other testimony Wednesday, two sisters told jurors about an encounter with Luster at Zelo’s bar on State Street in 1998. Claudine Espinoza, then 27, testified that Luster followed her and her younger sister, Francoise, to their van after they met him dancing.
“He said he was part of the Max Factor family,” Espinoza said, telling the jury she thought he was trying to impress her. “He said that his mom was very wealthy ... that she was one of the heirs.”
At one point, she said, Luster pinned her against the van and tried to kiss her, but she wriggled away from him.
On cross-examination, Espinoza acknowledged accepting a pink business card from Luster, which bore his name and the title of a film production company.
Espinoza’s sister testified that she lost her wallet, containing credit and identification cards, that night. According to previous court testimony, authorities found those documents in a locked closet during a search of Luster’s home.