A man described as a “prominent member” of Sydney’s Indian community is currently on trial for 13 counts of rape, among multiple other sex crimes, in Australia.
Balesh Dhankhar, former president of the Indian diaspora organization OFBJP Australia, stands accused of rape by five women, all of whom are Korean and in their mid-20s. The women claimed that they were lured by Dhankhar under the pretext of offering them jobs before he drugged and raped them in his apartment between January 2018 and October 2018.
Dhankhar reportedly posted a job ad for Korean-to-English translation work on the classified ads site Gumtree to lure women to Sydney’s Hilton Hotel bar, which is located near his apartment.
After allegedly spiking their drinks with sleep medication or Rohypnol, a benzodiazepine associated with date rape due to its solubility, he would bring them to his apartment and rape them. He would reportedly use his mobile phone or an alarm clock with a hidden camera to film himself raping his victims.
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According to court documents, a Korean woman who met with Dhankhar for a fake job interview in October 2018 said that Dhankhar expressed interest in her, but she told him she was not interested.
She shared that after she consumed the wine he gave her in his apartment, she felt dizzy and went to the bathroom to message her friend her location.
“Sister, I feel very intoxicated however slightly different kind of intoxication,” the victim wrote in her text. “And I am worried myself. Keeps trying to kiss me… I am f*cked up.”
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Another victim narrated how Dhankhar gave her ice cream and a glass of wine at his apartment in September 2018. All she could recall was seeing a condom wrapper, feeling dizzy and experiencing pain. Two days later, she went to a hospital and reported the incident to the police.
According to prosecutors, the woman was featured in two videos where she was unresponsive and making “distressed sounds” while Dhankhar was having sex with her.
During a police raid on his residence in October 2018, investigators reportedly found a hard drive containing 47 videos that show Dhankhar having sex with Korean women.
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Most of the clips show women who were unconscious, while some show women who appear to have consented to the act but were unaware they were being filmed.
The jury reportedly asked to leave the courtroom during the trial this week after scenes featured in the videos proved to be too much for them to handle.
DNA evidence was also recovered from Dhankhar’s bedding as well as a spreadsheet with women’s names on his phone and notes that appear to reference sexual activity.
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Dhankhar has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of rape, 17 intimate recordings without consent, six counts of using intoxicating substances to commit an indictable offense and assault with an act of indecency.
In the last four years, he has been trying to get his name suppressed in news articles, but to no avail.
Dhankhar was a “lead data visualization consultant” for Sydney Trains at the time he allegedly committed the crimes. During the period he was out on bail, he was hired by ABC and Pfizer.