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Controversial British photographer David Hamilton found dead

The 83-year-old was found by a neighbor in his Paris apartment. A book accusing him of rape was released just weeks before.

Prominent British fashion photographer David Hamilton was found dead in his Paris apartment early Saturday. The 83-year-old had, just weeks earlier, been accused of rape by several former models he photographed as children.

French media reported he was found in his Boulevard Montparnasse home in a state of cardiac arrest, with medication by his body, in a possible suicide. Emergency responders were unable to revive him.

Hamilton is most well-known for his work featuring naked, early-teenage girls photographed in a dreamy, soft-focus aesthetic. His work was published widely in books, high-end fashion magazines and shown in museums and galleries. Some observers, however, have criticized his work as pornographic.

David Hamilton Film Bilitis (picture-alliance/akg-images)

Some wondered if Hamilton's works, like the film Bilitis, were art or pornography

Last week French television presenter Flavie Flament named Hamilton as the man who raped her in the shower when she was 13. The alleged 1987 crime was described in her autobiographical novel published last month, which did not reveal his name but had used his photo of her on the cover. 

Following her allegations, other women came forward with similar stories.

Hamilton confirmed he photographed Flament but denied the rape accusations and said he would take legal action.

"I have done nothing improper," he told the AFP news agency on Tuesday. "Clearly the instigator of this media lynching is looking for her 15 minutes of fame by defaming me in her novel."

Flament's editor, Karina Hocine, told AFP Friday the presenter was "devastated" by the news of Hamilton's death.

"Naturally, we feel horrified and, at the same time, really disgusted that there was not enough time for justice to run its course."

"The horror of this news will never erase the sleepless nights," Flament told AFP, reiterating her allegations.

Under the French statute of limitations, rape charges must be filed within 20 years and within 10 years for sexual abuse.

But on Tuesday, the French minister for children's and women's rights asked Flament to lead a body that would consider extending the statute of limitations. 

aw/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)