Andrew Stuart Luster is in big trouble.
In July 2000, this wealthy 36-year-old great-grandson of cosmetics giant Max Factor was arrested on 40 charges of rape, drug possession, and weapons possession. The charges stemmed from three incidents in which the aptly named Luster had slipped the "date rape" drug GHB to women, then sexually assaulted them.
The judge set his bail at a remarkable $10 million, agreeing with prosecutors that Luster’s $8 million stock portfolio would have made it easy for him to flee the country had bail been set any lower. Perhaps the judge also had in mind the recent case of Alex Kelly, a wealthy high school student who raped a girl in 1986 and then, with the support of his parents, fled to Switzerland rather than stand trial. He lived an easy public life there until turning himself in to authorities in 1995.
Luster's attorneys claimed that their client was virtually impoverished, earning less than $70,000 a year managing his own investments, but the judge found this argument to be specious.
Preliminary hearings started on June 6, 2001, by which point the prosecutors had sifted through evidence from Luster’s house in Muscle Shoals, California and upgraded the charges against him to 88 counts, including sodomy and poisoning. Among his possessions, they had found videotapes of Luster having sex with his unconscious victims.
Apparently, the women had not seen the videos prior to these hearings, and one was quoted saying "I'm angry, I’m disgusted. I can’t believe someone would do that."
At some point in the proceedings, his bail was cut to $1 million. Luster paid this with the help of Duane Chapman's Bail Bonds, as would later prove to be his undoing.
The trial started the next year. Faced with a clear loser, Luster's attorneys tried claiming that he had been planning a career as a porn star, and that the women were actresses who were merely pretending to be unconscious.
At some point around New Year's Eve, 2002, Luster took advantage of a break in the trial proceedings to pack his bags and flee. He failed to show up in court on January 3, 2003, and the police had no clue where to find him. The trial proceeded in his absence and, considering his flight as proof of his guilt, the jury convicted Luster on essentially all charges.
Max Factor Cosmetics sent out a press release the next day, point out that the 39-year-old rapist fugitive had no connection to them. "There is no relationship between Andrew Luster and Max Factor and Company, makers of Max Factor Cosmetics. In fact, none of Max Factor's descendants have played a role in the company since the family sold the business to Norton Simon in 1973."
On February 19, 2003, he was sentenced in absentia to 124 years in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to his victims.
Hilariously, Luster's attorneys filed an appeal of the conviction in June. The judge threw it out, pointing out that fugitives have no right of appeal.
Boba Fett Gets Involved
Then, on June 18, it was all over. A still-unnamed American couple had met Luster while on vacation in Mexico and identified him while sharing vacation pictures with a friend. They then contacted bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman, who had been hired by the bail bondsmen whom Luster had ripped off, and they later contacted the FBI.
(By the way, you can visit the bounty hunter’s website at http://www.dogthebountyhunter.com/)
Chapman found Luster first but in some altercation involving a car crash, was arrested by the Mexican police, along with his two sons, Luster, and two members of a film crew that was documenting the event. Bounty hunting is illegal under Mexican law, so "Dog" faces up to 20 years in prison there.
Max Factor Cosmetics sent out its press release again, reminding everybody that they had nothing to do with this fiasco.
The FBI soon arrived and on June 19, 2003 brought Luster back to the United States to spend the rest of his life in jail. The women he raped sued him and of October 2003, two of them had won judgements -- for $19 million and $20 million, respectively. Luster's civil lawyer waves off these awards as meaningless, claiming the man has no money left anyway.
Bloomberg News, October 3, 2003
CNNi, June 18, 2003
Associated Press, June 12, 2003
Associated Press, February 19, 2003
Associated Press, January 21, 2003
World Entertainment News Network, June 7, 2001
Associated Press July 27, 2000
CNNi, July 27, 1997