by Medindia Content Team on  August 24, 2007 at 1:13 PM Medico Legal News
Australian Charged With Sexually Assaulting 24 Women
A man from the state of Victoria in Australia seems to have set a dubious record - he has been charged with sexually assaulting as many as 24 women.

He appeared before a Melbourne magistrate Friday.

Harry William Barkas, 45, believed by police to be one of Victoria's worst sex offenders, faces 61 charges relating to attacks dating back more than a decade.

Barkas, who lives with his mother, was the subject of two separate investigations by sexual crime squad detectives.

The first investigation involved alleged incidents with five women, between 1990 and 2005.

He is dubbed the hot chocolate rapist as he used drugs to sedate his victims before raping or trying to rape them.

He has been charged with four counts of rape, one of indecent assault, five counts of administering drugs to render a person unable to resist sexual penetration and one count each of using and trafficking cannabis.

From the second investigation, which spans the period from 1995 to 1998 and involves 18 alleged victims, he faces four more charges of rape, eight of assault with intent to rape, 19 counts of abduction and 18 counts of administering drugs to render a person unable to resist sexual penetration.

The court was told Barkas offered lifts to woman pedestrians, either alone or in pairs, in the early hours of the morning.

He allegedly bought food or beverages - hot chocolate in all but two cases - laced with unknown drugs that made the women lose consciousness, drove them to other locations and raped or sexually assaulted them.

Some of the alleged victims were attacked on the same day.

Thursday night a bail justice ruled he posed an "unacceptable risk" to the victims, some of whom police allege Barkas knows.

Friday morning he was remanded in custody to appear before the court again on December 14.

Magistrate Frank Hodgens ruled in favour of a prosecution request that all images of Barkas be suppressed in the media.

Prosecutor Moya O'Brien requested the next appearance be delayed until December.

"Four of the 24 victims are overseas and will need to be shown photo boards," she said.

She also said police needed to conduct further interviews with two of the victims, and said a computer seized from Barkas' home needed to be analysed.

Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia