jingyicui

Saifullah Khan, the former Yale student who was found not guilty of sexual assault by a criminal court in March, said on Monday that the University Wide Committee on Sexual Assault has resumed its hearing process on his case to determine whether he can re-enroll at Yale.

Days before Khan was arrested by police in November 2015 for allegedly sexually assaulting another student on Halloween night, Yale suspended Khan on an interim emergency basis. As Khan moved forward with his trial, Yale initiated a UWC proceeding to evaluate whether disciplinary action against Khan was warranted. But a formal hearing remained on hold as Khan awaited a verdict for two and a half years in criminal court.

“Under oath, I told the truth and the jury saw my innocence,” Khan wrote to the News on Tuesday. “I am currently going through a UWC procedure and I would like to put all of this behind me.”

The Pattis and Smith Law Firm handled Khan’s case throughout his criminal trial, but stopped representing him after he received a not guilty verdict in criminal court. Khan told the News on Monday that “some of the best minds in America” are now helping him navigate Yale’s Title IX proceedings.

“We wish him the best,” said Dan Erwin, one of Khan’s former defense lawyers. “We think Yale wrongfully suspended him, and we’re cheering him on.”

Yale spokeswoman Eileen O’Connor declined to comment for this article. Chair of the UWC David Post declined to comment on Khan’s case, citing the committee’s confidentiality rules.

A classmate of Khan’s, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, accused him of raping her after they walked back to her room in Trumbull College from the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 Halloween concert. Khan was suspended by Yale on Nov. 9, 2015, three days before he was arrested.

Khan’s trial  got underway in late February. After hearing testimony from a dozen of witnesses, a six-person jury cleared Khan of all four sexual assault charges after a four-hour-long deliberation.

After the verdict, Khan’s defense team publicly stated that it would like to see him resume classes by the summer or the fall and obtain his degree within “a reasonable time.” If he re-enrolled, Khan would need to complete two semesters to graduate.

In clearing Khan of all four sexual assault charges, jury members concluded that Doe and her team failed to prove that the evidence showed “beyond a reasonable doubt” — the highest standard of proof used in jurisprudence — that Khan had committed a crime.

At a potential hearing within the University, however, Khan would face a different evidentiary standard.

Like most U.S. colleges, Yale adjudicates sexual misconduct allegations using a lower standard of proof than that used in criminal courts. Per the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, a student is disciplined if evidence shows that the misconduct more likely than not occurred. Most civil court proceedings also use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard.

After Khan was acquitted, Yale students debated whether he should be readmitted, in Facebook posts and op-eds. Amelia Nierenberg ’18, a former Opinions editor for the News, wrote in March that “readmitting Khan would be a grievous mistake.” She argued that a preponderance of evidence does exist that Khan did not engage in Yale’s definition of consent, a “positive, unambiguous and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter.”

“Legal acquittal does not mean ‘innocence,’” Nierenberg wrote. “It does not mean that Khan did not engage in deeply dubious sexual conduct. It just means that a jury could not find that this sexual behavior was, to their eyes, rape beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But other voices, especially those outside the Yale community, have been vocal in coming to Khan’s defense.

Cynthia Garrett, Co-President of Families Advocating for Campus Equality or FACE — a group that advocates for the fair treatment of students facing sexual misconduct allegations on college campuses — sat through the trial and wrote a column in March for the College Fix describing her experience. She told the News that that “the Yale community seems to be in denial” when it comes to giving Khan a fair chance at returning to the University.

“It isn’t even a measure of the differences in standards of evidence,” Garrett added. “[The jury] didn’t believe her, they said they didn’t believe her, she was not credible, this is not he said-she said, this is ‘we don’t believe her, and the evidence supports what he said.’ … Why is it that an ideology has to supersede actual facts?”

Yale received an all-time high of 124 complaints of sexual misconduct during the reporting period that spanned from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2017.

Jingyi Cui | jingyi.cui@yale.edu

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

Correction, May 2: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Khan said on Tuesday that his UWC process has resumed. In fact, he said it on Monday. 

Correction, May 2: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Khan was suspended by Yale three days after he was arrested. He was, in fact, suspended three days before he was arrested. 

  • Nancy Morris

    Citing Nierenberg’s ludicrous defamatory article without noting that several jurors interviewed after the acquital indicated that the standard of proof was not a deciding factor in their decision is disgraceful and very bad journalism. As one of the jurors pointed out, much of the evidence presented by the prosecution … particularly the security camera footage … in fact supported the defense. Serious issues in the complainant’s credibility and consistency were also found. Nor did the medical evidence support the prosecution, especially the bruises, which were shown to be too old to have been inflicted on the night in question. Nor was the evidence of the complainant’s deep inebriation strong. It’s hard to identify the evidence that would constitute a “preponderance” here from what has been revealed in the media.

    I am not predicting the outcome here, but it’s always the right time to ignore hysterical prejudiced screeds such as Nierenberg’s, and one hopes for everyone’s sake that the Yale officials making this decision employ procedures and thought processes entirely other than those of Ms Nierenberg.

    • Sam

      Or that the complainant lied about not being sexually active for 6 months prior. That unidentified male DNA from the anl swab quickly ended that lie. This wasn’t even a case of he-said-she-said. The actual testimony, revealed not by the mainstream media or YDN, indicates that the accused was entirely believable and the accuser was not. The facts presented bore this out, including the security video footage and the card swipes and the phone logs. This article, previous articles in YDN, and Yale’s kangaroo court proceedings, confirm the abysmal state of understanding of American jurisprudence, law, and due process at this institution.

  • Dios

    Wow! Talk about perseverance. Good luck Saif.

  • ShadrachSmith

    The whole point of feminist dogma as expressed in Yale’s Star Chambers is that men don’t get due process or the presumption of innocence. So the local feminists see the criminal trial as irrelevant to their power to punish.

    I’m betting the feminists prevail because not a man in the place has the decency or testicular fortitude to defend an innocent man.

  • Nancy Morris

    or maybe you collaborated and colluded with Russian intelligence to pervert the democratic processes of the entire nation in the 2016 elections with a nefarious intent to defeat the election of our God-given rightful next president in favor of an ignorant orange-haired buffoon! And how can we tell one way or the other without a multi-year investigation of your entire life by a special prosecutor and a team of lawyers mostly selected because they hate your guts?

  • Mac Gregor

    The court has already decided, and Khan is innocent. If Yale wants to prosecute someone, it should be a known offender: Roberto González Echevarría, Spanish and Portuguese.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Janet Halley, Trading the Megaphone for the Gavel in Title IX Enforcement, FEB 18, 2015 128 Harv. L. Rev. F. 103

    Suggested reading

  • 20155

    Saif, a refugee? That is laughable. He comes from a prominent family of power brokers and always had his sights set on returning to Afghanistan to pursue his own political agenda.

    • IMattart

      The arrogance of your ignorance is stunning. Mr. Khan is a refugee, whose parents could not even pay for or travel to the US to attend his criminal trial. All legal and living expenses over the past few years have been paid by his many supporters and he attended Yale on full scholarships. The only “power broker” possibly in his family was his uncle who was executed by the Taliban while Khan was attending Yale. Despite his shameful treatment by Yale students like yourself, which I must presume you are, Mr. Khan loves the US and still has faith that truth and fairness will prevail.

  • gregpiper

    No copy editor? The body is the “University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.” Always double-check proper nouns, folks. https://uwc.yale.edu/

  • APD

    Toxic femininity on display here as Yale Woman™ and their White Knight allies point to the despised culturally other male, the most oppressed victim group on campus, and screech and haw to Mommy Salovey “but it’s not faaaairrrr!” Yale is no place for Khan as rumor has it the last man with any balls graduated from that well endowed circle jerk some years ago.

    Yale is now in the upside-down as those screaming social justice become the oppressors. I guess believing in justice and civil liberties doesn’t go as well on the resume these days as does feminist-agitator-with-no-anchor-in-reality.

  • ShadrachSmith

    This is the best article and comments discussion I have seen in a university newspaper in this school year. Props to all involved.

    With respect, I insert the link to an Atlantic interview with RBG. It is worth your time to read, and pose a question about what I read as an internal inconsistency in RGB’s statements.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/ruth-bader-ginsburg-opens-up-about-metoo-voting-rights-and-millenials/553409/

    Q&A set one: in which RBG gets it right:

    Rosen: It’s a time of such anxiety, the political system is so polarized, men and women are figuring out how to interact with each other. What is your advice about how civil interactions are possible? And I do want to share the advice that you gave to Lauren and me and that you’ve given to so many couples you have married. Explain what the lesson is, because it’s profound and very wise.

    Ginsburg: If you’re referring to my mother-in-law’s advice on my wedding day.

    Rosen: Yes.

    Ginsburg: I was married in my husband’s home, and just before the ceremony, my mother-in-law took me aside and said, “I’d like to tell you the secret of a happy marriage.” I’ll be glad to know what it is. She said, “Dear, in every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”

    And that is advice I have applied not only in 56 years of marriage, but to this day, in my current workplace. And if an unkind word is said, you just tune out.

    Rosen: It’s a profound lesson about never reacting in anger, in always maintaining your equanimity, and if others lose their temper, not losing yours.

    Ginsburg: Well, emotions like anger, remorse, and jealousy are not productive. They will not accomplish anything, so you must keep them under control. In the days when I was a flaming feminist litigator, I never said to judges who asked improper questions, “You sexist pig.”

    Q&A two: in which RBG gets her facts wrong:

    Rosen: Which was wonderful to hear. And I want to know, and I know the audience does too, what is your advice to those Millennials about how they can best advance the cause of justice?

    Ginsburg: Not alone, but in alliance with like-minded people. I was impressed and heartened by the Women’s March in D.C., which has now been repeated in many places all over the country. Young people should appreciate the values on which our nation is based and how precious they are, and if they don’t become part of the crowd that seeks to uphold them, you know it was something Learned Hand said—if the spirit of liberty dies in the hearts of the people, there is no court capable of restoring it. But I can see the spirit of my grandchildren and their friends, and I have faith in this generation just coming into adulthood.

    I saw the primary purpose of the Women’s March she referenced as shouting “You sexist pig.” to men in general and our duly elected prez in particular. You kids are all smarter than me. What say you?

  • John Dingle Barry

    Didn’t the “victim” violate some school policies as well?

  • MagicalMcgoo

    This isn’t America, this is the junta of Yale. He is toast. The New Haven Gestapo will send him to the proverbial camps. Why anyone would think spending $300+K for this ‘education’ is insane.

  • Sam

    A lie that could have had (and may still have) very serious consequences to the accused, and relatively little for the lying accuser. She graduated, remains anonymous, and will not be threatened with deportation despite her false testimony. The term Kafkaesque doesn’t even begin to describe Khan’s predicament.

  • Sam

    So much for the most sacred principle of our justice system, or article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

  • truthhurts3

    There is nothing “unambiguous” about sex. Ridiculous standard to have, and not consistent with the real law on sexual assault. Men need to start accusing women more of sexual assaulting them, and then women can find out the hard way this is absolutely ridiculous.

  • truthhurts3

    FemAndProud must be an uneducated idiot. She was not “defenseless,” no one forced her to drink alcohol, and drunk people can and do legally consent to sex, they do it all the time. When will the fem and proud women start accepting responsibility for their own behavior while drunk? Be a true feminist, take ownership of your own willing actions (which hers were) and stop trying to pull a double standard of “I’m a woman who can stand on my own two feet,” and then claim it’s the man’s fault when you do something you regret.

  • James Galullo

    Please do not mischaracterize the verdict. The benchmark for the acquittal was not either “beyond a reasonable doubt” or “preponderance of the evidence”. The claimants testimony of events was contradicted throughout the trial by her own testimony, her own witnesses and the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. The article is suggesting that Mr. Khan was guilty but exonerated because of a high criminal benchmark of “beyond a reasonable doubt”. That is unfair and disingenuous. The claimant lied about the event, plain and simple.