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A six-person jury cleared Saifullah Khan of four sexual assault charges on Wednesday, more than two years after the former Yale student was arrested for allegedly raping another Yale undergraduate on Halloween night 2015.

The long-awaited trial got underway last Monday, and, just over a week later, after hearing testimony from about a dozen witnesses, the jury began deliberating late Tuesday afternoon. It took less than four hours for the jury to reach the verdict that Khan is not guilty of sexual assault in the first, second, third or fourth degrees. Khan, a native of Afghanistan, began sobbing as the verdict was announced and embraced friends and family as he left the courtroom.

“We’re grateful to six courageous jurors who were able to understand that campus life isn’t the real world,” Khan’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, said in email to the News after the verdict came out. “Kids experiment with identity and sexuality. When an experiment goes awry, it’s not a crime.”

Khan, who was a senior at Yale studying cognitive science in the fall of 2015, was suspended by the University on Nov. 9, 2015, three days before he was arrested. Pattis said Yale should readmit Khan to “right that wrong.” Khan’s other attorney, Dan Erwin, said the defense team will closely follow how Yale responds to the verdict.

Khan referred questions about the verdict to his lawyers.

State Prosecutor Michael Pepper could not be reached for comment after the trial. And University spokesman Tom Conroy declined to comment on whether the University will consider readmitting Khan.

The Khan case has drawn attention as one of the few campus rape cases to go to trial. The jury’s verdict put a spotlight on the heated debate over whether campus sexual assault accusations are best handled by internal university panels or by law enforcement.

Jingyi Cui | jingyi.cui@yale.edu

Hailey Fuchs | hailey.fuchs@yale.edu

Britton O’Daly | britton.odaly@yale.edu

  • Penny Alvarez

    You’ve been after him for months, baying for his blood and now Khan is innocent and I hope he sued the YDN for defamation by omission for all the things they conveniently kept out of their stories to imply his guilty. SHAME.

    I wont be sad to see it go.

    • S T

      He was not found innocent. He was found not guilty, ie guilt was not proven. NOT the same as innocent.

  • Due process

    Britton,
    You should be downright ashamed of yourself. Your reporting on Sai’s case was deplorable to say the least. You made no effort to stay unbiased and you omitted facts to make your story sound better. You owe him a public apology. You are what is wrong with America.

  • Due process

    I guess the Yale Daily News doesn’t like free speech when they screw up.

  • Due process

    You should be downright ashamed of yourself. Your reporting on Sai’s case was deplorable to say the least. You made no effort to stay unbiased and you omitted facts to make your story sound better. You owe him a public apology. You are what is wrong with America.

  • Nancy Morris

    Obviously.

    “Reasonable doubt.”

    Accuser has foggy memory of key aspects, accused denies accuser’s version and proffers plausible alternative, third party witnesses do not support accuser, prosecution makes attenuated inferences based on ill-established facts.

    Is there somebody who actually read the YDN coverage of this trial who expected anything but an acquittal? This was not even a true “he-said/she-said.” It was more a “he-said/she-couldn’t-quite-recall-clearly.”

    Why did the prosecutor even take this dog of a case to trial? Ridiculous.

    Is there is enough here even to constitute a “preponderance of the evidence?” Shakey. Very, very shakey. In fact, if I were the accuser and this is all I’ve got, I’d start worrying about a possible incoming civil defamation action.

    • Emerson Drinker

      Nancy, you often seem to be suggesting that sexual assault accusers are lying. But just because the case did not result in a guilty verdict does not mean that it was a false accusation or that a successful civil defamation lawsuit against the accuser is in any way realistic. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of the Title IX system and the way the YDN has treated this case, but not every person accused of rape is wrongfully accused, and not every accuser is lying. There was quite a bit of evidence to support the accuser’s version of events.

      There were multiple witnesses who testified that the accuser was clearly too drunk to walk effectively on her own or open her phone to pull up her Halloween Show ticket, including people who were not close with the accuser. There is no debate that the accuser repeatedly puked at the Halloween Show and after leaving, repeatedly, or that the defendant was anywhere near as drunk as the accuser.

      Putting aside the circumstances of this specific case, people who advocate for the elimination of Title IX sexual assault tribunals altogether say that people who believe they have been assaulted should go to the police immediately. Yet here is someone who went to the police the next day, who testified at the trial, and who is still being called in essence a liar like every other accuser, both by the defense and many here and in other comment sections. Is anyone surprised that many rape victims choose not to report the crime? Who wants to have degrading insinuations about their outfits and drunkenness and DNA found on their anal swab dragged out in court?

      Any route a rape victim takes, they find themselves vilified. Either they are the coward who let their rapist go on to hurt other people, or they are the person who used Title IX to ruin someone’s life, or they are the person who used the justice system against someone.

      I don’t support every aspect of the Title IX system or believe that every accusation is equally legitimate or provable. I also understand “beyond a reasonable doubt” and its importance for the accused. Morning-after regret to consensual sex is not rape. Realistically, regardless of the definition taught at Camp Yale, most drunk sex is also consensual. But neither do I subscribe to the reactionary rhetoric that seems to have risen in the years since Dear Colleague that every accuser is a liar the moment a “not guilty” verdict is read, and I find it troubling.

  • ourfoundingfathers

    Yale Daily News did everything it could to try this case in the media and label this young man guilty from day one. Learn young progressive liberals…learn. Stop being tools for activists, get your heads out of your butts and actually think about things before you run off half cocked destroying people’s lives because “it sounds right”. Be ashamed, then change!

  • Young Doctor Yung

    Sue the Whale, Mr Khan.

  • Pam L.

    HURRAY FOR SAIF!! The jury clearly saw he is innocent. I bet he has grounds to sue both YALE and his accuser to recoup legal fees. He and many other innocent college young men have been ruined by spiteful young college women due to their “after-regrets” and other horrible reasons. BELIEVE THE ACCUSED!! #TooMany college men of this generation have been RUINED! YALE should have handled this TOTALLY different which should have lead to Saif not being accused and arrested. Parents should think TWICE/THREE TIMES before sending their high school seniors to Yale.

    • Nancy Morris

      Yale did not control the prosecutor’s decision to indict Mr Khan and bring this case to trial. You ire is misplaced. It should be directed at Connecticut state officials.

      • Pam L.

        See my response to your same comment above.

  • Robert Boni

    good for him

  • Sutton Keany

    The reporting by the News on this matter has been superb.

  • Pam L.

    HURRAY FOR SAIF!! The jury clearly saw he is innocent. I bet he has grounds to sue both YALE and his accuser to recoup legal fees. He and many other innocent college young men have been ruined by spiteful young college women due to their “after-regrets” and other horrible reasons. BELIEVE THE ACCUSED!! #TooMany college men of this generation have been RUINED! YALE should have handled this TOTALLY different which should have lead to Saif not being accused and arrested. Parents should think TWICE/THREE TIMES before sending their high school seniors to Yale.

    • Nancy Morris

      Yale did not control the prosecutor’s decision to indict Mr Khan and bring this case to trial. You ire is misplaced. It should be directed at Connecticut state officials.

      • Pam L.

        Yale should not have referred the matter to the state. It was either laziness on the Yale Title IX staff not to do a fully detailed investigation, or perhaps the staff and campus police they thought it would be great publicity if they could be shown that they made the correct decision. Both were a public “fail.” But it shows that Yale is not providing due process to accused male college students. It also shows that Yale, along with Columbia University, Duke University, Drake University and several others, are willing to ruin college males’ lives and futures on the weak preponderance of evidence standard. The PoE standard is mentioned as the Sept 2017 Department of Education guidance in that applying a lower standard of evidence [and I recognize that Yale supposedly applies the PoE standard in any honor code violation cases], Yale (and other universities) made “a deliberate choice…to make cases of sexual misconduct easier to prove — and thus more difficult to defend, both for the [accused} and [accuser] students alike. … The lower standard selected may thus be seen … as a part of an effort to tilt the playing field against accused students, which is particularly troublesome in light of the elimination of other basic rights of the accused.” (cite: Doe v. Brandeis Univ., 177 F. Supp. 3d 561, 607 (D. Mass. 2016)) in footnote 13 of the Department of Education guidance issued last year (at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-title-ix-201709.pdf).

        • Nancy Morris

          No, Yale should not conceal a clear cut felony rape accusation from the state. Doe may be wrong about what happened to her or it’s legal significance, but that in no way justifies not following up on her accusation. The legal system exists exactly for that reason.

          What can you possibly be thinking?

          • Pam L.

            I am a mother with two sons. Let me know if you have any sons. Anyone with college-age, soon-to-be college aged sons needs to be aware that Yale and MANY OTHER colleges have wrongfully accused innocent college males under very poor Title IX procedures. If anyone has a male student high school, please be sure to look over the Clery Act statistics reported by each university/college, search the Internet for Title IX treatment of college males (Yale is the worst) and think THREE TIMES before sending your son to those locations. OR, be wary of any college girl who can easily falsely accuse your son. Colleges always believe the accuser. They DO NOT BELIEVE the ACCUSED SON NO MATTER WHAT! GET EDUCATED! Read the information posted on https://www.facecampusequality.org/ , http://helpsaveoursons.com/ , and http://www.saveservices.org/ and https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/08/columbia-university-mattress-girl-emmas-sulkowicz-paul-nungesser-lawsuit-rape-accusation-exonerated/ , even Australia took notice – https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/mattress-girl-saga-a-warning-to-unis-on-sexual-assault-cases/news-story/daecd8a0b17438c2a2fc4a681d159da5 . This Khan’s case the only one at Yale that appears to be a false accusation?? Not surprisingly, NO. See https://nypost.com/2018/01/16/yale-settles-with-student-expelled-over-false-sex-assault-claim/ and https://www.dangerandplay.com/2016/03/14/fifty-percent-of-rape-cases-are-false-jack-montague-yales/ and http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/2/2/harvard-rape-false-accusal/ . ALL OF THIS is what I’ve been thinking. “Following up on her accusation” by shoving the whole thing to the criminal court was an easy way for Yale to deal with the matter. Even if Yale’s Title IX staff had had an ounce of a sense to provide due process and a fair investigation, Khan probably would STILL have been found “responsible” because of the insane low level of deciding any type of honor code violation through a “preponderance of evidence” versus “clear and convincing” evidence. For the past 6-7 years, young college men have sued in local and federal courts to get real “due process.” The whole world is watching Yale for its next steps. Donors who disagree with Yale’s treatment of Khan and other male college students may no longer make donations and probably do feel sorry and are embarrassed for Yale. Just as the college students in Florida are speaking loud and clear against the gun violence, so too will various parties will begin to call out universities for these travesties of justice. So thank you for asking and have a great week!

          • Nancy Morris

            Even if everything you write is correct, it would not justify concealing a clear-cut rape claim from the police. That a particular accusation may be false or insufficiently supported is for the criminal justice system to determine.

            I completely agree with your broader point that the general procedures, definitions and policies relating to sexual assault created under and since the 2011 Obama/Duncan Dear Colleague Letter are grossly deficient, biased, ahistorical and morally repugnant. Yale will be ill served if it really refuses to update its version, and if it does not update, massively damaging and expensive civil lawsuits against the university are virtually certain.

  • Pam L.

    PLEASE NOTE THAT YALE DAILY NEWS IS DELETING COMMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE NOT GUILTY VERDICT!!

    • S T

      clearly untrue – have you read the comments?

      • Pam L.

        This was true up until they finally let this one remain. There were zero comments and my comment (actually below) kept being deleted, which is why I posted the one above. I posted my comment below four or five times, and checked a few minutes after each. Each had been deleted. It is great that the YDN is no longer deleting posted comments…or are they? Has anyone else’s comments been deleted?

  • KS

    the accuser should be tried for false accusations, and defamation of character. shame on her. she took years from a young man’s life.

    • midwoodkid

      Yes, the prosecutor was unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt partly because some evidence wasn’t presented to the jury such as Saifullah Khan impersonating the accuser — he pretended to be her when he took over her phone and texted her concerned friends, misled them, saying she’s “good”. Why did he answer for her? If she’s really OK, she would’ve been able to answer the texts herself.

      Also, Khan’s girlfriend/alibi, Hamasa Ebadi was allowed to submit into evidence a screenshot of their call record. Why can’t she provide the original, official record from the cell phone company?

      And the prosecutor failed to question their unusual story. Per Khan and his girlfriend’s testimonies, we’re told that after Khan and the accuser’s first sexual encounter, the women exchanged pleasantries on the phone. Then Khan and his girlfriend talked for two more hours in the accuser’s dorm room before his phone died and they had sex again.

      In 2015, when this incident happened, Khan’s girlfriend has been in this country for about five years. Somehow in a few short years, she’s completely shed her upbringing and she’s all-in on open relationships, to the point of chitchatting with her boyfriend’s sex partners, like it’s normal.

      I know we have to respect the jury’s decision and they can only base their verdict on what they know but Khan’s version doesn’t seem plausible.

  • Courtney Palmbush

    Are you kidding me? “We’re grateful to six courageous jurors who were able to understand that campus life isn’t the real world,” Khan’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, said in email to the News after the verdict came out. “Kids experiment with identity and sexuality. When an experiment goes awry, it’s not a crime.”
    This is THE stupidest thing I have ever heard with regard to a rape trial. I can’t believe this guy practices law. So, no matter what actually happens, it’s okay because it’s an experiment? No wonder campus sex culture is so f’d up. “It’s all just a playground where rape can happen and that’s okay because, like, I’m just ‘experimenting’ by using your unconscious body to pleasure myself.” Ugh. What. A. Creep.

    • Nancy Morris

      The evidence against Mr Khan described in YDN coverage was obviously insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Any reasonable person should realize that.

    • heavensdoor

      This man was arrested and brought to trial on no evidence.
      The only thing I gathered from this was that she got incredibly
      drunk (thanks in part to a rabbi of all people) and possibly had regrets
      in the morning. It was a he said she couldn’t remember a thing. I do
      not know what happened that night and neither do you..in fact neither does
      she. Most people I know who followed the trial kept waiting for the smoking
      gun. There was nada here.
      If Norm’s comments in court bother you then you must be really upset that
      Attorney Hillary Clinton is coming to Yale for commencement time..the
      woman who defended a 45 year rapist of a 10 year old girl..whom HIllary
      bragged about getting the man off..as he did do it! Meanwhile she painted
      the little girl as promiscuous and liking older men. Yes..that was all on
      video and disgusting..but she can reinvent herself as a savior of woman.
      amazing Mr. Pattis bothers you but not her..the enabler of the century.

  • KS

    `I hope the accuser is tried for false accusations. Shame on her! This young man lost years of his life. May he find peace.

    • Emerson Drinker

      Not guilty in a court of law and innocent in fact are two different things. A “not guilty” verdict does not mean an accuser is necessarily lying, but that the case can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the jury’s opinion.

      • GH

        So he’s doomed for life in your eyes? Doesn’t matter what jury said?

        • Emerson Drinker

          No. There is a difference between a not guilty verdict and having sufficient evidence to charge the accuser with making false statements. The charge of making false statements requires evidence, and a “not guilty” verdict is insufficient evidence of the accuser lying.

  • Dios

    Justice!

  • ShadrachSmith

    The Christakis Halloween: peak student PC, in the bad sense of the word.

  • jacksprat47

    No surprise! Yale now needs to immediately reinstate and graduate Mr. Khan. Likewise for Jack Montague. There is simply no place in this formerly great University for institutional bias against male students. I commend the jury for reaching a correct, and indeed obvious, conclusion, and I strongly recommend that President Salovey resign immediately and admit his culpability in allowing these innocent students to be humiliated and prosecuted in this fashion. Disgusting!

    • Nancy Morris

      President Salovey had no control of the prosecutor’s decision to indict Mr Khan.

      On the other hand, one has to wonder what the prosecutor was thinking to bring this case to trial with such weak evidence.

  • sy

    Since there has been a public trial with due process, Conroy announces that Yale administrators and faculty will convene a secret tribunal under a gag rule without due process. After the secret tribunal, they will pay lawyers out of endowment to try to break Khan and the Title IX lawsuit for discrimination damages and legal fees.

    As about 90% of faculty, administrators, and trustees have self-selected for the political project, students, applicants, and alumni will select themselves for or against the political project and its once magical, now ugly, buildings.

  • Pam L.

    HURRAY FOR KHAN!! The jury clearly saw he is innocent. I bet he has grounds to sue both YALE and his accuser to recoup legal fees. He and many other innocent college young men have been ruined by spiteful young college women due to their “after-regrets” and other horrible reasons. BELIEVE THE ACCUSED!! #TooMany college men of this generation have been RUINED! YALE should have handled this TOTALLY different which should have lead to Saif not being accused and arrested. Parents should think TWICE/THREE TIMES before sending their male high school seniors to Yale.

  • Justice Due Process

    YDN – why did you present a biased opinion in reporting this case. You are supposed to show both sides of a story, not one side of the accuser. In addition, now that the young man is now free, you should release the accusers name.

  • Dios

    There was a lot covered in this case. Transcript needs to come out so that legislators who are considering sexual related laws can see clearly what goes on so that they can make appropriate revisions, repeals and or replacements. So that the Department of Education can also use it to revise their Title 9 policies. Public Opinion can see how media outlets report the news – to judge the credibility or manipulation. Until we put all the cards on the table, people (media/special interest movements like me2 and the like) can hide and jive all they want and get away with it. Not only are the falsely accused hindered by false accusations, REAL Victims are hindered as well. Any statement made by a third party will go on deaf ears because it is hearsay, because people falsely accuse, their statement has not power behind it. This is going to get significantly worse for REAL VICTIMS, and you can give thanks to false accusers. The backlash is beginning. Time to grow up and come to the table with all your cards and have an adult dialogue as how to solve this problem before it further spirals out of control. I know organizations such as FACE and SAVE are reasonable and welcome any opportunity to sit at the table with all parties to help come up with legislation, policies and or processes to protect ALL who need protection.