NEW YORK - Academy Award-winning songwriter Joseph Brooks was found dead yesterday of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan apartment, police said.

Brooks, 73, was awaiting trial on charges of molesting women who were lured to his apartment for supposed acting auditions. He pleaded not guilty in 2009 to rape and other charges.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said Brooks was found in his Upper East Side apartment about 12:30 p.m. by a friend with whom he had planned to have lunch.

Brooks was found with a plastic dry-cleaning bag around his head. A hose attached to a helium tank was hooked up to the bag, he said.

Police said a suicide note was found but they didn't reveal its contents.

Brooks won an Oscar for best original song for the 1977 Debby Boone ballad, "You Light Up My Life" and directed a related movie. He also won a Grammy for the song. Prosecutors say he lured most of the women to his apartment through an online ad offering auditions for a movie role, then sexually assaulted them after they drank drugged wine.

Brooks' son, Nicholas, is charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend, Peruvian-American swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay.