Saifullah Khan Expelled From Yale, But With A Twist

Despite his acquittal after trial by jury, Yale wasn’t done with him. At the time, Saifullah Khan really didn’t have a chance, knowing that there was a huge hook for Yale to hang on, that he was found not guilty because the burden of proof was beyond a reasonable doubt. Yale didn’t have to suffer any such burden. Yale didn’t have to endure the onerous requirements of due process. So what if he wasn’t guilty. That didn’t mean he was innocent.

The legalistic distinction between beyond a reasonable doubt and the standard at Yale, preponderance of the evidence, is the technical distinction, but hardly the only one. At a real trial, rules of evidence are used, examination and cross are required and the trial is overseen by a judge, who knows actual law and instructs the jury. It’s not that the lower standard is inconsequential, but only one of the many due process protections that distinguish a trial from a farce.

Yale never wanted Khan back. Yale students never wanted to Khan back. Yet Khan wanted to return to Yale. Maybe he was just a guy who refused to let adversity defeat him.

Khan, who is an Afghan refugee, first enrolled at Yale in 2012 after he was identified as “extremely gifted” while living in a Pakistani refugee camp, according to court papers.

But between his acquittal and January 2, 2019, when notice arrived by email that Yale expelled him, a new and damning allegation arose.

For months, Jon Andrews was Saifullah Khan’s most ardent supporter.

As Khan, a 25-year-old senior, went on trial last February on charges that he raped a fellow Yale student in her Trumbull College dorm room, Andrews, 24, supported him every step of the way, helping him draft legal correspondence and develop courtroom strategies to undermine the credibility of his accuser. Andrews had experience in this area: He was a board member for Families Advocating for Campus Equality, an advocacy group that works to defend college students accused of sexual assault. After meeting at a FACE event in November 2017, Andrews said, the pair spent hundreds of hours on the phone together in the months leading up to the trial, developing an emotional bond that evolved into a romantic relationship. On trial days, Andrews sent Khan gift baskets to help him cope with the pressure. Khan was ultimately found not guilty on all counts and returned to Yale this fall.

These claims are absurdly delusional. Being involved with FACE brings no “experience” in dealing with accusations. These boys didn’t “draft legal correspondence” or “develop courtroom strategies.” But the delusion didn’t end there.

But in a series of interviews this summer, Andrews, who is gay, said he was sexually assaulted by the man he worked so hard to defend against rape charges. Over the course of their seven-month relationship, Andrews said, Khan sexually assaulted him during an alcohol-fueled threesome in Washington, D.C., last June and physically attacked him on two other occasions.

After the acquittal, Yale allowed Khan to resume classes pending its decision on the acquitted rape. After Andrews’ graphic accusation and an investigation by Washington, D.C. police, he was summarily suspended.

Kahn was informed of his suspension in a letter from Chun, which said, “an emergency suspension may be imposed when it appears necessary for your physical and emotional safety and well-being and/or the safety and well-being of the university community.”

Chun said in the letter that he was taking this action “based on allegations that you engaged in violent behavior toward Jon Andrews and another person.”

On November 13, 2018, the police closed the investigation, finding no basis to pursue charges. Andrews wasn’t remotely credible, despite some student “journalist” reporting at painful but uncritical length. Not that it really mattered as far as Yale was concerned.

In truth, Mr. Khan never had a chance at Yale once his accuser decided to make her claim. Indeed, after his acquittal in March, some 75,000 people signed a petition urging Yale to ban the “rapist” from campus. He was permitted to resume classes this Fall, but was treated like a pariah by classmates.

While Khan has no option if he wants to return to Yale but to seek redress in federal court, the insertion of Jon Andrews into the already untenable campus mix of a rape accusation, particularly after the recounting of his delusions in the student newspaper, made it inconceivable that anyone could step back from the outrage directed at Khan. Whether it’s the old “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” or believe the victim, there was no chance whatsoever that Yale wasn’t going to expel Khan, no matter what the facts showed or what the price of expulsion might be.

Wasn’t Khan’s situation bad enough, accused of rape and a pariah on campus, before he turned to FACE for help?

Despite their frequent communication, Andrews said he and Khan saw each other in person only three times over the course of their relationship: once at a biannual FACE conference in Dallas, another time in May while celebrating Andrews’ birthday in Indianapolis and a final time in Washington, D.C., during a FACE event. On these occasions, Andrews said, Khan instructed him to complete specific, usually submissive physical acts in order to sexually arouse him, though they never had penetrative intercourse. And over the phone, Andrews said, the two often had sexually explicit conversations, some of which spilled into text messages that Andrews provided to the News.

This provides a harsh reminder about advocacy organizations. Why FACE would have this kid on its board at all is a complete mystery. Why FACE would have him involved at all is a mystery as well. Obviously, advocacy organizations need people who want to advocate, even if they have neither the education nor experience to contribute anything meaningful. They have “passion,” and that’s often mistaken as a sufficient substitute for competence to contribute anything worthwhile to a cause.

FACE isn’t responsible for the delusions of its members. They don’t vet board members for their serious psychological issues. FACE has come a long way since the beginning, and I was pretty critical of their efforts as being seriously misdirected at the start, their “passion” notwithstanding. Khan’s problems weren’t caused by Andrews, who would have never been in the picture but for his involvement with FACE. But it didn’t help, and Andrews sealed Khan’s fate.

It was all Yale needed to do what it wanted to do. Had there been no Andrews accusation, it’s highly probable that Yale would have expelled Khan anyway. But Andrews made it a done deal. So much for passionate advocacy.

10 thoughts on “Saifullah Khan Expelled From Yale, But With A Twist

  1. DaveL

    Obviously, advocacy organizations need people who want to advocate, even if they have neither the education nor experience to contribute anything meaningful.

    Nor the discipline and ethics, apparently, to avoid becoming personally involved with the client. Speaking of which, isn’t there something kind of hinky about Khan’s “legal advisor” who’s defending him against Andrews’ allegations being the same attorney who previously defended Andrews against his own sexual misconduct allegations?

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      There is, but none of that makes much sense given that she wasn’t the lawyer who represented Khan at trial. I’ve seen nothing that explains where she fits in, or even her involvement, other than that Yale article.

      Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      It’s really a shame for FACE, which has done very well under its new president, Cynthia Garrett, become far more effective and knowledgeable in its efforts. But they got burned good with this delusional kid, and that’s the nature of advocacy organizations.

      Reply
  2. szr

    One aspect of Mr. Pattis’ blog post confuses me: why did he call off the hearing scheduled for next week?

    The University put Mr. Kahn on emergency suspension in response to the Andrews accusation. The Oct. 9 Yale News article provides that Kahn’s emergency suspension would last pending the investigation. Pattis provides that Yale “did not intend to call his accuser in Washington, D.C., concluding the young man lacked credibility.” Pattis then writes that he and Kahn “called next week’s hearing off. It’s moot now. Mr. Khan is now expelled and will have to fight his way back into Yale by way of the courts in lengthier proceedings.”

    If the University concluded that Andrews is not credible, why call off the hearing? Such a hearing would be moot if Mr. Kahn was expelled. But was he expelled? If so, when was he expelled, and for what reason?

    Defending an accused student within Yale’s IX process seems like trying to win an asylum case in traffic court.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Since Norm was his lawyer, his post is ahead of YDN. He was notified of his expulsion yesterday by email. The reason for calling off the hearing would appear to be that since he was expelled based (putatively) on the initial rape allegations, going to hearing on the new allegations post-expulsion made no sense, as he would be expelled either way. Edit: I’m told that it was a hearing on the suspension based on the new allegations, not on the underlying allegtations themselves, so it was completely mooted by the expulsion.

      One of the constant problems in dealing with highly convoluted situations like this is making tactical choices as to what to fight, where and when. Time and money are scarce resources and so it’s ill-advised to squander either.

      Reply
  3. MonitorsMost

    He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the Rooms of Beinecke and round the Harkness Tower and round Title IX’s star chamber before I give him up!

    Reply

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