Yale University student Saifullah Khan acquitted of rape SUES his accuser for defamation after Connecticut Supreme court ruling clears the way
A former Yale student who was expelled by the university after being accused of sexual assault is suing one of his accusers for defamation – and is demanding $110million from the school in damages after not being able to get his degree.
Expelled in 2019, Saifullah Khan, 30, filed the suit more than four years ago – 20 months after after he was acquitted of raping a female student on Halloween night in 2015, but deemed ‘responsible’ for the act by the school months later.
The case has since slowly grinded through the Connecticut courts, culminating in a recent ruling this past June where jurists said the then 21-year-old woman is not immune from a defamation lawsuit.
Khan – a member of the class of 2016 who had his undergrad upended over the claims – was found not guilty of the alleged rape in a court of law.
Following his exoneration – which came at the height of America’s #MeToo movement – Khan was readmitted as a full-time student in 2018, but was subject to protests from the student body along the way, the suit claims.
Expelled in 2019, Saifullah Khan (seen here during his trial in 2018), filed the suit more than four years ago – months after after he was acquitted of raping a female student in her dorm on Halloween 2015, but found ‘responsible’ by a university disciplinary committee months later
Following his exoneration – which came at the height of America’s #MeToo movement – Khan was readmitted as a full-time student in 2018, but was subject to protests from the student body along the way, the suit says, before he was eventually expelled less than two months later
Barely a month later, another student – one of Khan’s chief supporters during the trial and a former romantic partner – came forward to claim Khan slapped him during consensual threesome in DC in June of 2018.
Aired in an interview with the school newspaper, those claims led to Khan being again suspended – and eventually expelled in January 2019 after the school ruled that he was ‘responsible’ for the other unproven act even without a conviction.
The ruling came more than three years after the alleged assault was first reported, and made way for Khan’s new suit, now given the greenlight.
It demands $110 million in damages on the basis that the school violated his rights throughout the investigation process, particularly a federal law that governs how universities should handle sexual assault hearings called Title IX.
The aforementioned damages attributed to the obstruction of his degree completion, reputational harm, and breach of his right to privacy, the suit states – along with alleged instances of emotional distress.
The filing describes in-depth how Khan was arrested in November 2015 for the alleged rape ahead of his trial, which, initially slated for 2017, was postponed after Yale Police failed to provide the defense with interviews from prospective witnesses.
Before providing Khan’s version of what happened, lawyers wrote how the Afghani neuroscience student, who began attending Yale in 2012, was expected to graduate ‘with a Yale baccalaureate,’ and ‘was on the cusp of a world filled with promise.
‘On the night of Halloween in 2015, Mr. Khan met with a female student, Jane Doe, whose name is kept confidential out of respect for the university’s confidentiality requirement in Title IX proceedings,’ it reads.
The pair – described by both the prosecution and defense as ‘acquaintances’ – met at a party sponsored by ‘an off-campus secret society,’ and afterwards attended a performance of the Yale Student Orchestra at Woolsey Hall, ‘a campus auditorium.’
‘Mr. Khan and Jane Doe were familiar with one another from several on campus encounters,’ the lawsuit further notes, before describing how the pair left the performance prematurely after the unnamed victim suddenly took ill.
Doe, meanwhile, claimed in interviews eventually administered by police said she was so intoxicated she had trouble producing her ticket, vomited and ended up sitting with Khan, whom she considered an acquaintance.
The alleged victim at the time said she had never been inebriated prior to the night night in question, when she consumed multiple alcoholic beverages at the Jewish society Shabtai’s off-campus party.
The two proceeded to walk together on campus for a period, before returning to their coeducational dormitory, the suit states, and eventually the girl’s dorm.
It was there she said Khan forced himself onto her despite her intoxicated state – an account Khan and his team have continued to dispute after successfully battling them back in court with an in-depth cross examination.
‘I was crying, I tried to say stop but I’m not sure if anything came out,’ Doe testified to a twelve person jury that would eventually find Khan not guilty, emotionally stating at a point: ‘I remember feeling him inside me.’
Barely a month later, another student – one of Khan’s chief supporters during the trial and a former romantic partner – came forward to claim Khan slapped him during consensual threesome in DC in June of 2018
However, with a line of questioning that saw attorneys point to a description Doe provided to police of her Halloween costume ‘that attempted to avoid that fact she was dressed in a provocative manner’ and a grainy account of how the couple had ended up in her room in the first instance, lawyers poked enough holes in her defense that jurors were unable to find Khan guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’
After barely three hours of deliberations, Khan was acquitted – though his fight against the now unproven allegations still had to be settled on the school front.
As the suit notes, much of the Connecticut campus at this point was aware of Khan at this point, with ‘The Yale Daily News and other news outlets [covering] the trial closely, portraying Mr. Khan in an extremely unfavorable light.’
The recent ruling is significant because the federal government is slated in October to change regulations covering how colleges must handle sexual misconduct cases.
The Biden administration will be undoing changes made by the Trump administration in 2020 that allow for cross-examination of accusers and other requirements.
In the same ruling, however, the Connecticut court said college students who report being sexually assaulted deserve some immunity for their statements to school investigators, even if the proceedings are not quasi-judicial.
But that immunity would only apply if the statements are not malicious. It is the first time the state court has addressed the issue.