Indian-origin man found guilty of drugging, raping 5 Korean women in Australia

An Indian-origin man in Australia has been convicted of drugging and raping five Korean women and filming the acts on a hidden camera, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Balesh Dhankhar, a prominent member of the Indian diaspora in Australia with political ties, faced trial over 39 charges including 13 counts of rape committed between January and October 2018. He has been found guilty of all charges by a jury at the District Court in Sydney on Monday.

The 43-year-old data expert broke down in court when the jury foreman replied “guilty” to each of the 39 charges against him, the Herald report said. He will face court again in May and will be sentenced later in the year.

A predator’s modus operandi

The jury heard Dhankhar had a ‘very specific modus operandi’ to ensnare the women – with a fake job posting for Korean translators. He used the same hotel, café, and Korean restaurant to meet the women before taking them to his studio apartment in the Sydney CBD under false pretences.

Prosecutors said Dhankhar spiked glasses of wine and other drinks with tablets of the sleeping drug Stilnox or infamous date-rape drug Rohypnol.

Dhankhar filmed the rapes on a camera hidden in his bedside alarm clock, or on his mobile phone, which were both recovered by police.

When police searched Dhankhar’s apartment in October 2018, they discovered 47 videos of him having sexual intercourse with women, some of whom were unconscious while others were struggling and groaning as if in agony.

The rape videos were organised into folders, each labelled with the victim’s name.

Arrest and trial

Dhankhar was arrested on October 21, 2018, after his fifth victim woke up while he was assaulting her, and sent messages to a friend while hiding in the bathroom.

Dhankhar pleaded not guilty, claiming all five women consented to sex, and to being filmed, and faced a lengthy trial. All five of his accusers were subjected to gruelling cross-examination in court. The recordings of the sexual assaults were also played for the jury.

According to The Herald, the jury “writhed” as they watched the videos, and at one stage, when it became unbearable, they asked the judge to send them home early.

In his defence, Dhankhar explained that he lied to women because he was lonely after an extra-marital affair broke down. He blamed his loneliness on the “unfulfilling” intimacy of his marriage, the report said.

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