Balesh Dhankhar, a well-connected individual in the Indian-Australian community with political ties, has been convicted of drugging, raping, and filming five Korean women in Sydney, making him one of the most heinous rapists in the city’s history.
A jury in Sydney’s Downing Centre found that Dhankhar had deceived these women with false promises of employment, drugged them, and recorded videos of his brutal assaults. Dhankhar, former head of Overseas Friends of the BJP, rubbed shoulders with the most influential members of Sydney’s Indian diaspora.
When police searched Dhankhar’s CBD apartment in October 2018, they discovered numerous 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 organized into folders, each labelled with a Korean woman’s name.
The NSW Police officer leading Dhankhar’s case, Sergeant Katrina Gyde, suspected that Dhankhar was living out a disturbed fantasy. According to Sydney Morning Herald, during the trial, Crown prosecutor Kate Nightingale remarked, “The videos (bookmarked online) are very similar to the videos you took,” to which Dhankhar replied, “Not at all.” The prosecutor continued, “You thought it was fun… watching Korean women who were unconscious, impaired,” but Dhankhar insisted, “It is just a porn video; it has nothing to do with unconscious, impaired.”
Several women have accused Dhankhar of raping them. They told the jury that he met them at the same Hilton cafe, after which they were taken to a Korean restaurant. Later, they were taken to an apartment under false pretences. The women said that after going to the apartment, they had a little wine and then they became unconscious.
Dhankhar created a complex deception that began with a fake job posting for Korean translators in 2017. He recorded conversations with women who were alone, new in Sydney, and dire need of employment. There was no job or company; it was an attempt to “manipulate women,” Dhankhar admitted after a gruelling cross-examination.
Dhankhar could have pleaded guilty in the past five years, which may have resulted in a reduced sentence in exchange for sparing his victims the trauma of testifying.
Dhankhar’s sentencing will take place later this year.