David Hamilton stands in front of one of his photographs taken during the late 1970s at a 2007 exhibition
A British photographer known for his soft-focus portraits of teenage girls has been found dead aged 83.
David Hamilton was facing child rape accusations in France – but his alleged victims are now too old for a prosecution.
Mr Hamilton, who lived alone in the French capital, was found in ‘an asphyxiated state’ by emergency workers on Thursday evening.
‘They reached him soon after 10pm, and tried to revive him, but he died from a heart attack,’ said a source close to the investigation into the death.
Mr Hamilton is said to have assaulted a number of youngsters over a long career in his adopted country.
Flavie Flament, a 42-year-old Paris radio presenter, said she was only 13 when Mr Hamilton assaulted her at a nudist camp in Cap d’Agde, in the South of France.
It was allegedly during a photoshoot in the mid-1980s after Mr Hamilton persuaded her parents to let him work alone with her on a shoot.
‘Very quickly his behavour altered’ said Ms Flavie.
‘He raped me in the shower,’ said Ms Flavie, who was working with the three other women to try and see Mr Hamilton prosecuted.
Ms Flament’s disturbing public statement has now prompted at least three other women to come forward, but they are all now in their 40s and 50s.
Under French law, the age limit for pressing charges of rape of a minor is 38, meaning that the women have passed the statute of limitations. ‘
Laurence Rossignol, France’s Minister for Families, Childhood and Women’s Rights, had confirmed that the law was being reviewed.
The aim was to bring France in line with countries like Britain, which has no statute of limitations for sex crimes, she said.
‘I would like to know how (prosecutions) happen elsewhere, so that we may also be able to change things in France,’ Ms Rossignol said earlier this week.
Pictured: Police gathered near the Paris apartment where David Hamilton was found dead
Mr Hamilton, who lived alone in the French capital, was found in ‘an asphyxiated state’ by emergency workers on Thursday evening
In turn, Ms Flavie said: ‘Today, victims of rape, when they are children, have up to the age of thirty eight to file a complaint, and they have to live with this trauma until the end of their lives. Meanwhile, their torturer can sleep quietly saying that it is a closed case.;
Mr Hamilton, who fiercely denied any wrongdoing, was faced with the allegation when Ms Flament wrote a newly published book called The Consolation.
It does not name the photographer directly, but his portrait of her as a schoolgirl is on the front cover, and she has since confirmed that she believes him to have been a rapist.
Ms Flament told France 2 TV station: ‘When I chose with my publisher to put this photo on the cover, I knew that it would prompt other testimonies.
‘And I can tell you that I wasn’t the only one to have gone through this abuse, this rape by this photographer. I knew I couldn’t be the only one.’
Flavie Flament (pictured), a 42-year-old Paris radio presenter, said she was only 13 when Mr Hamilton assaulted her at a nudist camp in Cap d’Agde, in the South of France
Mr Hamilton’s work depicting early-teenage girls has caused controversy in the past, with some of the images classed as indecent (pictured, the film poster of the Hamilton film – Premiers Desirs)
Mr Hamilton had issued a statement saying he was ‘particularly outraged by the total absence of respect of the presumption of innocence’.
The statement added that Mr Hamilton would ‘make no further comment on criminal behaviour that certain people attribute to him and of which he is not the author’.
In interviews with the latest edition of Nouvel Observateur magazine, two other alleged victims recount how a ‘smiling’ Mr Hamilton also attacked them when he was in his 50s.
Like Ms Flament, he is said to have isolated the 13 and 14 year old from their parents at Cap d’Agde, where Mr Hamilton owned a flat.
They said he stalked the beach every day ‘in such of models’ while accompanied ‘by a very young slim blonde girl.
Mr Hamilton was well known because his posters, books and other work were sold all over the world, while his films were watched by thousands
Mr Hamilton was well known because his posters, books and other work was sold all over the world, while films such as First Desires (1983) were watched by thousands.
‘To be noticed by him was to be the chosen one,’ said one of his alleged victims, referred to only as Alice. ‘When he offered to do a trial shoot, my father was so proud, his eyes were twinkling’.
Mr Hamilton’s work depicting early-teenage girls, often nude, has caused controversy in the past, with some of the images classed as indecent and even pornographic.
Speaking before Mr Hamilton’s death, Ms Flavie added: ‘I chose to run the risk of being attacked by David Hamilton, for the simple reason that I felt I was supported by the population, magistrates, politicians and other witnesses.
‘I chose to run the risk that, today, I will also befound guilty of defamation, and my rapist can now file a complaint against me.’
Mr Hamilton had said he was indeed taking his alleged victims to court, saying: ‘Clearly the instigator of this media lynching is looking for her fifteen minutes of fame by defaming me in her novel.’