Hamilton

'I felt horrified': Witness describes alleged sexual assault at hands of mortgage broker

A woman testifying at the sexual assault and fraud trial of a former Hamilton mortgage broker says Dennis Khanna forced himself on her when she was most vulnerable — crying over the recent death of her mother and the break up of her marriage.

Dennis Khanna facing sexual assault, fraud charges

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

A woman testifying at the sexual assault and fraud trial of a former Hamilton mortgage broker says Dennis Khanna forced himself on her when she was most vulnerable — crying over the recent death of her mother and the break up of her marriage.

The witness, who testified in Superior Court in Hamilton Wednesday, said she and her husband entered into a "rent to own" agreement with Khanna for a home in the city's east end back in 2011. The witness cannot be named because of a publication ban.

By the summer of 2012, the woman had fallen on tough times, court heard. She and her husband had just split up, she said, and her mother had just died.

She was borrowing money to make the mortgage payments, and told Khanna while sitting with him one night on her back porch that she likely wouldn't be able to afford her home anymore.

I felt horrified, I felt disgusted, because I was vulnerable and upset.- Witness

"I was very upset … crying, very upset, [having] recently lost my mother earlier that month," the witness testified.

"He said not to worry about it, 'I will try and help.'"

Then, the witness alleged, things escalated.

"He was kind of getting close to me, and he put his hand on my knee, and wanted to kiss me. He pulled me close, and kissed my lips," she said. "I just kind of pulled away … I was blowing my nose because I was upset.

"I felt horrified, I felt disgusted, because I was vulnerable and upset."

'You didn't tell him to stop, did you?'

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.

The Oakville man's licence was suspended by provincial regulators in December 2015 after allegations emerged that he carried out a "pattern of manipulation and exploitation" of his clients through his Metro Financial Planning Limited business on King Street West.

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

Khanna's lawyer, John Rosen, suggested in cross-examination that his client was at the woman's home to "lend a sympathetic ear."

"No, it wasn't that way," she said through tears in the witness box.

"You didn't tell him to stop, did you?" Rosen later asked.

"No I did not," the witness responded. "It still doesn't give him the right to do that to me."

Sexual favours in lieu of mortgage payments

The witness said there were no other instances where Khanna physically touched her, and no other instances of a sexual nature — save for one time where he allegedly suggested she could provide sexual favours in lieu of mortgage payments.

"He suggested if I was low on money, other people did favours for him, sexual favours, if they were low. He suggested I could be one of them," she said.

The witness said she just shrugged that suggestion off.

Rosen presented documents in court that showed the witness and her former husband originally entered into a rental agreement with Khanna and his wife back in the summer of 2000.

The woman agreed that her husband was largely in charge of her finances. The landlord tenant board ordered they move out of that home over unpaid rent of just under $5,000, court heard.

The couple then entered into the rent-to-own agreement in 2009, the woman agreed, which included payments for the $5,000 the previously owed Khanna.

She also agreed with Rosen's suggestion that Khanna bought them a new fridge for their home, and helped her husband pay off some of his outstanding debts in an effort to build up his credit score.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

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Adam Carter

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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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