Khan Acquitted, Yale Condemns Anyway

He said it was consensual. She said she was too drunk to consent, and it wasn’t. But unlike most accusations at college, Yale in this case, the matter was tried in real court.

Mr. Khan’s lawyers worked relentlessly to discredit the account of the woman, who was not identified by name in the arrest warrant application. They asked repeatedly how much she had to drink, and how she could claim not to remember certain details, such as how she arrived back at her dorm room, but remembered others, such as the alleged assault itself. They parsed her text messages with Mr. Khan, asking if she had not been flirting with him in the days before the incident. They showed off her Halloween costume, a black cat outfit, and asked her why she had not chosen a more modest one, such as “Cinderella in a long flowing gown.”

This quote, from a news article about the trial, curiously reflects the writer’s view. Was the victim discredited or was the truth revealed by confrontation, the way the system is supposed to work?

Laura Palumbo, a spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, called the defense’s line of questioning “all victims’ worst fears in coming forward.”

It’s also the false accusers’ “worst fears in coming forward,” that their accusations will be revealed as false.

“It is very intentionally working to trigger victim-blaming and stereotypes and misconceptions about sexual assault,” she said. “You must be interested in sexual behavior just based on how you’re dressed and drinking.”

In real court, facts matter more than narratives designed to provide an excuse for every failure. The “victim’s worst fears,” indeed. Saifullah Khan was acquitted of all charges.

In an interview after the verdict, Norman Pattis,* a lawyer for Mr. Khan, said he had tried to challenge “the outer limits of the #MeToo movement,” which he called “a form of mass hysteria.”

For the woke lawyers who would never consider challenging the accusations of a woman claiming victimhood against your client, Norm did what he was supposed to do, and did it well. In a climate framed by the “believe the victim” narrative and an excuse for remembering, whether too much or too little, which invariably leads to conviction regardless of the testimony, the jury reached the verdict of not guilty. So the nightmare for Khan is over? Not quite yet.

In light of this legal verdict, Khan’s lawyer said that Yale should readmit Khan after he was suspended in November 2015, three days before his arrest. The lawyer, Norm Pattis, said the University should “right that wrong” and welcome Khan back into the community.

Khan was a grad student at Yale when he was accused on Halloween, 2015. He was suspended and hasn’t been back.

Readmitting Khan would be a grievous mistake, as using legal standards of “not guilty” do not apply in a private community like Yale. Legal acquittal does not mean “innocence.” 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.

It’s curious that Yale Senior Amelia Nierenberg writes “to their eyes.” They were the jury. They were the people who sat and listened to the words, watched the demeanor, of the accuser. She can be forgiven for being wrong when she says “Legal acquittal does not mean “innocence,” as her lack of precision by failing to say  doesn’t “prove” innocence is a common misperception of the law.

Khan was innocent. Every accused defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Khan was not proven guilty and remains innocent. Much as some want to argue that the presumption of innocence is a legal technicality, it reflects a choice society has made, that people aren’t witches because little girls point at them and scream, and the witches must then prove they’re not.

Nierenberg may not care for the presumption, may prefer guilt as the starting point (at least when it comes to  sexual assault), but she doesn’t get to reinvent the law to suit her consequences. Not that she seems to think so.

Fortunately, a courtroom and a college community have different standards of proof. Here, the question is not, “Is this person absolutely guilty?” Instead, the question is more, “Has this person acted in such a way that their right to continued participation in our community is forfeit?”

To my eyes, the answer to the second question is, resoundingly, “Yes. His place here is forfeit.”

And in juxtaposition to the jurors, who heard testimony, saw demeanor, Nierenberg has the hubris to write about the outcome to her eyes. An acquittal at trial, to her eyes, means guilty, and she deems herself worthy to declare that an innocent man’s place at Yale is “forfeit.”

This problem extends far beyond the bounds of this one man or this one night. Just because the courts have found this example of sexual misconduct one in which the participant was “not guilty” does not mean it is acceptable or that Khan is innocent. He is not. And he — along with everyone else found to have a preponderance of evidence of sexual misconduct — should not be allowed back on our campus.

Except Khan was never found to have committed sexual misconduct, by any standard of proof, except by people like Nierenberg who point and scream witch, who rationalize why their complete absence of actual knowledge is irrelevant to wrongdoing, and why the narrative in which they believe so dearly matters more than anything else.

On the campus of Yale, Khan is guilty whether he’s convicted or acquitted. If the consequence of a criminal prosecution doesn’t lead to a verdict of guilty, then it’s the system at fault. Once accused, the taint of guilt will always remain. It was that way at Columbia for Paul Nungesser. It will be that way at Yale for Saifullah Khan. Once accused, there is no innocence, even after the jury acquits.

*While I haven’t mentioned Norm in a very long time, for reasons well known to long-time readers, Norm got the acquittal here, and for that deserves the recognition that comes with a successful defense.

Edit: Curiously, a Google search of my old post, “A Book Unreviewed: Norm Pattis (Update),” fails to show its existence.

I wonder what that “www_riskeraser_com” on the end of the link means? I wonder how much Norm had to pay to get my post delisted from Google. I hope it wasn’t too much.

29 comments on “Khan Acquitted, Yale Condemns Anyway

  1. Christopher T. Van Wagner

    Scott, as one who toils in the leftist capital of the midwest, where UW-Madison is our Yale (albeit with more putative due process than private schools when it comes to expulsion), this campus rag diatribe is familiar. In this current campus town milieu of “guilty until proven innocent and then still guilty,” there exists no facile means by which to regain admittance to the university once shamed, shunned and excommunicated from campus. Were Kahn to return, one suspects Yale would tolerate public threats, harassment and social media shaming as “free speech” for the entirety of his return. Would not damages be a better course, if such a remedy could be achieved? If a unviversity had to start writing checks for all of its ill-advised witch-hunts and public burnings, perhaps then the pendulum might swing back to basic fairness.

    1. SHG Post author

      Would damages suffice in lieu of whatever future he would have otherwise had? You’re right that there’s little chance he would be able to return to Yale (or any campus) and be treated as anything other than a rapist. Damages may be all that’s left for Khan.

  2. Skink

    “who rationalize why their complete absence of actual knowledge is irrelevant to wrongdoing”

    I’d call that phrase a definition.

    Thinking, believing, make-believing– there are many things that aren’t substitutes for knowing. Knowing truth only comes from poking, prodding and questioning. That’s the scientific method. The same people that would never question the method in deciding which phone to buy believe the truth just hangs in the air, free for the plucking, when it comes to really big issues. I guess big issues are just harder than phone issues, and hard issues need simplification.

    1. SHG Post author

      Nope. Truth is subjective. Facts are objective. If you believe it’s true, then it is, no matter what the facts are.

      1. PseudonymousKid

        That’s some weird perspectivism you have going on there. Truth is a belief in accord with the fact. Truth is not what one person thinks is in accord with the fact. Truth is objective.

        Unless truth now means truthiness, which is possible.

        1. SHG Post author

          Are you not paying attention? As much as truthiness is a wonderful concept, there is a difference between those who simply manufacture their truth out of their feelz and those who filter facts through their biased lens to arrive at “their truth” which may differ markedly from the truth as found by people whose lens is unbiased or differently biased.

          There can be insincere versions of “truth,” which is truthiness, and sincere versions of “truth” which take the same facts and end up in a completely different place than others.

          1. Billy Bob

            And then there are *alternative* truths,… If you want “real truth”, you’ll have to take a dose of LSD. Ha. (But not too much; you’ll wind up in the hospital. “You cannot bear the truth!”)

            1. SHG Post author

              Let’s play a game, Bill. Before you comment, ask yourself, “will this amuse or interest anyone other than me*?” If yes, then submit. If no, then have a drink. See? It’s a drinking game.

              *Barleycorn doesn’t count.

            2. Billy Bob

              Let’s play a game here: You Masta, me Friday?
              Lawyers, lawyers everywhere, but none will drink with me.
              [And none will represent me without a gigunda-huge retainer which I cannot afford.]
              “The matter was tried in real court.” [with a link to the N.Y. Times] Oh really!?! What’s wrong with the New Haven RAGister? The New Haven Dependent? They have 1st Amendments rights too. Just because,… you are New York orientated,…! Some people actually commute from New Haven to New York. I would never torture myself in that manner, but others will travel long distances in charcoal gray suits to chase the godalmighty dollar. Disgusting, if you ask me?

              I got news for you, buddy: New Haven Superior Court is not a real court–in spite of what you say or think. Its a Kangaroo Court! A term you will never learn in law school or tested on at the *bar exam*. Been there, done that. And we are not alone. Pattis-breath got lucky; even a blind squirrel gets lucky. However, he’s developed a certain *shtick*, as you put it. [Yiddish for a little song and dance], and it WORKS more often than not. God bless the little overcompensating Hebrew. He and Premier PewTin Man have a lot in common, trust it. It’s called *bravado*.

              The fackin Genghis Kahn kid got *lucky*. That’s our take on the “matter”, as you call it. Jury verdicts are as variable as the wind, even in the Un-Constituition State of CONnecticut. If he was not a Yale grad student from abroad, and if he had not been able to afford the inestimable services of CT’s Prima Dona defense counselor, Mister Narcissis Himself, he would be in the lockup for life plus cancer with all the other members of the underclass who are fodder for the Prison-Industrial Complex. Remember: Bernie MadeOff did not steal the money like some ghetto kid; he stole ALL the money there was to steal, and pretty much got away with it, until,… they just couldn’t take it any moe. Okay Bernie, time’s up; we’re taking you in! Your fun in the sun is over.

              Leave Barleycorn out of it. He’s in recovery. Do not disturb OR encourage him. His archival record of irrelevant nonsense lives! His loss would be felt far and wide, trust it.

            3. F. Lee Billy

              If I changed my handle to F. Lee Billy, would that help? [You’ve come a long way, Bill. Keep it up, you, you, you!…] Please notify of any rate changes.

      2. Skink

        I wish you hadn’t introduced me to both a new definition of “truth” and a drinkin’ game when I’m trying to touch all my files. My reporting to clients will now be exceptionally skewed and incoherent.

  3. Erik H

    If the NYT whiners continue to suggest Khan is still guilty absent any hearing which has concluded he is guilty, do they also plan to publish the accuser’s photo and suggest she is a false accuser, based on the hearing outcome?

    Seems ridiculous to me, but at least it would be consistent.

  4. B. McLeod

    In the brief reset between the mistrial and the retrial that led to this verdict, many media accounts had already declared the accuser “victim.” So, it is possible that what we have with the writer at Yale’s newsy-like thing is not her Yalie, bias, but simply her media bias. Whichever it is, I’m sure it will deeply trouble Khan that she deems him not good enough to associate with her.


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