Justin Lee denies raping 30 women in first court appearance

TAIPEI - The man at the centre of the most notorious sex scandal to rock Taiwan in years has claimed trial, beginning what is expected to be a long legal battle to clear his name.

Looking visibly thinner than before and limping slightly from his foot cuffs, one-time party boy Justin Lee walked solemnly into a Taipei district court yesterday morning to claim trial for allegedly raping more than 30 women - among them models, actresses and a television host - and filming the acts, in a case that has riveted Taiwan for months.

Lee, who had been in remand for the past four months, was dressed in a white shirt and black padded jacket and sported long, straggly hair. He looked older than his 27 years.

He admitted to "doing wrong" but pleaded not guilty to 28 counts of various degrees of sexual assault and 17 counts of privacy violation at the closed-door hearing, where five minutes of footage from some of the sex clips Lee is said to have recorded himself were played, his lawyer told reporters.

"Lee believes he did not commit the crimes he is accused of by the prosecution. He also wants to tell the media that he admits to doing wrong, but he is no criminal," lawyer Wen Wen said.

Mr Wen added that he wished to examine all the videos in the possession of the prosecution, a request which the judge approved.

Lee has maintained that his alleged victims had sex with him willingly. He has also accused some of them of being gold-diggers who threw themselves at him because of his wealth.

Lee's father Lee Yueh-tsang is a billionaire businessman, while his mother is a nightclub boss who gave birth to him out of wedlock.

The scandal broke in August after Next Magazine published an expose, which alleged that the women involved included celebrities such as Maggie Wu, Terri Kwan, Bianca Bai and Ruru Lin.

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