Hamilton

Mortgage broker sex assault was 'figment' of witness's 'imagination,' defence alleges

The lawyer for a former Hamilton mortgage broker on trial for sexual assault and fraud charges said in court Tuesday that a witness totally made up a sexual encounter with his client, Dennis Khanna.

Dennis Khanna facing sexual assault, fraud charges

Dinesh (Dennis) Khanna was sentenced in Superior Court in Hamilton Thursday. (Hamilton Police Service)

The lawyer for a former Hamilton mortgage broker on trial for sexual assault and fraud charges said in court Tuesday that a witness totally made up a sexual encounter with his client, Dennis Khanna.

The witness, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, testified Monday at the start of Khanna's trial in Superior Court, and alleged Khanna threatened to revoke her mortgage unless she performed oral sex on him.

Khanna's lawyer, John Rosen, suggested in a terse exchange during his cross-examination Tuesday that the witness totally made the encounter up out of spite, because of a financial deal gone bad.

"None of this happened. This is a figment of your imagination," Rosen said.

"That is your opinion," the witness shot back.

Khanna, 63, is charged with six counts of sexual assault involving four women and one charge of fraud. He has pleaded not guilty at a judge-alone trial.

My occupation had taught me to recognize the signs of a threatening situation.- Witness

The trial is the latest in a series of legal and regulatory enforcement faced by the Oakville man whose licence was suspended by provincial regulators in December 2015 after alleging he carried out a "pattern of manipulation and exploitation" of his clients through his Metro Financial Planning Limited business on King Street West.

In 2017 the Financial Services Commission of Ontario ultimately refused Khanna's application to renew his mortgage broker's licence.

The witness testified Monday she found Khanna's business while searching for someone to help her secure a mortgage because her credit was bad.

Witness testifies Khanna wanted oral sex

The woman testified that after Khanna helped her get a mortgage, he called her and said he wanted to come tour her house to see the renovations she'd been working on, because he knew she was planning to sell.

He showed up with another man and, after walking through the home, the woman said, Khanna asked to see the master bedroom.

Assuming he wanted to talk about money, the witness said she complied. But then he closed the door.

"He just point blank said 'Give me a blow job,'" she testified.

The woman, who was working as an exotic dancer at the time, testified Tuesday that she "knew she was in a bad situation."

"My occupation had taught me to recognize the signs of a threatening situation," she said. 

The woman said she did as he demanded.

'I'm not stupid'

In a tense back and forth with both Rosen and the witness talking over each other, the defence lawyer suggested she could have just shoved Khanna out of the way and left.

"He was in front of the door," the witness said.

"Well push him out of the way," Rosen said, pacing back and forth in the courtroom.

"Well look at the size of him and look at the size of me," said the woman, who is much smaller than Khanna.

"But you didn't even try," the lawyer responded.

"Well I'm not stupid, I'm not going to get assaulted," the witness shot back.

A Hamilton Police officer brings boxes to the office of mortgage broker Dennis Khanna on King Street West in 2016. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Later in his cross-examination, Rosen pointed out that after the alleged assault, the woman continued to do business with Khanna.

Rosen said the woman didn't find another mortgage broker, nor did she list her house for sale to get out of her financial relationship with Khanna.

"Instead you called Dennis to say you needed more money, didn't you?" Rosen said, before showing documents in court that showed she went back and asked Khanna for help in setting up a second mortgage.

"Yes," the woman responded.

Witness ended up on social assistance

According to the Crown's opening address, when the woman couldn't make payments on her first mortgage, she repeatedly refinanced through Khanna and her debts increased.

The witness then later made an agreement take out a mortgage on another home and work alongside Khanna to renovate and flip it, court heard — but she couldn't keep up with the payments. She was later forced to move out of that home.

"I made a big error when I was doing that, and sought legal advice too late," the witness said. She later ended up on social assistance, court heard.

Rosen alleged it was that experience that led the woman to go to police and make up a story of sexual assault involving Khanna. Court heard the woman contacted police after she heard about previous charges police had levied against Khanna.

The witness again completely denied making anything up.

The trial continues Wednesday.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Carter

Reporter

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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