NEW YORK (Reuters) - Joseph Brooks, the Oscar-winning composer of the hit "You Light Up My Life" and who was awaiting trial on rape charges, was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday having apparently killed himself, police said.

The body of Brooks, 73, was discovered at his apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side around 12.30 p.m. by a friend with whom he had planned to have lunch, police said.

Brooks had a plastic bag wrapped around his head. A helium tank with a hose attachment was also found at the scene and may have been used in the apparent suicide, police said.

They said they found a suicide note but would not discuss its contents. An official autopsy will be done on the body.

Brooks was awaiting trial after pleading not guilty in 2009 to charges he raped and sexually abused at least 11 women.

According to the Manhattan district attorney's account, Brooks, a director and screenwriter as well as a composer, tricked aspiring actresses into coming to his apartment in the belief they were auditioning for a role.

In many cases, the women had responded to an audition notice that Brooks had posted on Craigslist, the online classified ads service, and flew to New York from across the country at Brooks' expense, according to the account.

Brooks won his Academy Award in 1977 for composing the Debby Boone ballad "You Light Up My Life," which featured in the film of the same name that Brooks also wrote and directed.

Brooks' son Nicholas was charged with second-degree murder in December after his ex-girlfriend, Sylvie Cachay, a 33-year-old swimwear designer, was found dead in a bathtub at an upscale New York hotel. He has pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Source: Reuters US Online Report Top News

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