Luster Victim Was Once a Live-In Girlfriend

ByABC News via logo

VENTURA, Calif., Oct. 3, 2003 -- One of Andrew Luster's victims says she was a live-in girlfriend before she discovered his dark side.

Luster, a convicted rapist, was orderd to to pay more than $20 million in damages Thursday to "Tonja Doe," his former live-in girlfriend.

"Tonja Doe", is one three women who accused Luster of knocking them out with the date-rape drug GHB and sexually assaulting them at his beach house northwest of Los Angeles.

The young woman first met Luster at a Santa Barbara bar while on a visit with her sister in 1996.

"We dated each other," she said. I moved in with him. I liked him enough and trusted him enough to pursue a relationship with him," she said.

"Tonja Doe" testified she had no idea Luster drugged her and then raped on the very first day they met, until a police detective showed her the shocking videotape in which Luster undressed and violated her while she lay unconscious.

Luster, 39, the great-grandson of the cosmetics legend, was convicted this year in absentia of raping the women and sentenced to 124 years in prison. He had fled to Mexico during the trial. He was later caught by a bounty hunter and returned to the United States.

Tonja Doe said a "creepy" collage of pictures was the first real clue she had about Luster's secret desires.

"One of the main things is I discovered a collage of pictures on one of his walls in a home in a back room of various women unclothed in just a collage form," she said. "I asked him about it and he told me he didn't know any of them. I ended up finding my picture up there after a few months of living with him," she said.

When "Tonja Doe" finally saw the videotape Luster made of her — she was already married to someone else and pregnant with twins.

She said she believes the shock she went through caused her to lose one of the babies.

"The rape occurred in 1996 and I found out in 2000, and I lost one of my twins," she said. "It was horrifying to say the least."

Superior Court Judge Barbara Lane ordered Luster to pay the "Tonja Doe" $10 million for pain and suffering, $10 million for punitive damages, and $529,774 for psychological counseling and lost earnings.

Luster's civil attorney, Harold Greenberg, said he had not seen the judgment but said his client would likely appeal. He called the judgment meaningless because he said Luster had spent most of his money on lawyers.

"He was worth a couple million but never as much as people said," Greenberg said.

A second victim won a $19 million judgment against Luster earlier this year. Her attorney, Barry Novack, said she was trying to collect the money.

"At the time that he was arrested, he had certain estates. He had real property, as well as cash bonds, and one of our tasks is to find out and trace what he did with those funds," Novack said.

"Tonja Doe's" attorney, Bill Daniels, said the case wasn't all about a monetary award for "Tonja Doe."

"We didn't really do this because we expected to collect a lot of money," Daniels said. "We did it because she deserved her day in court," he said.

"We're looking for assets. I don't think he has the find of money he was telling the women that he had.he told tonja that he had $87 million. We don't have any evidence of that," he said.

Tonja Doe says she has tried to move on with her life with the help of her family.

"I still have many tough days, of course, but I'm determined not to let it get the best of me," she said.