Posted for: Willie Wonka, HMFWIC
The former Yale student who was acquitted of rape in 2018 — but later ousted from the Ivy League institution — can sue his accuser for defamation over statements she made during a school hearing, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled this summer.
Saifullah Khan, 30, has had a $110 million defamation lawsuit pending against the Ivy League institution since 2019. Khan has been fighting to bring his accuser, a fellow student, into the suit over a 2018 university hearing that eventually resulted in his expulsion.
Connecticut’s high court granted Khan’s request in June. The court ruled that the accuser shouldn’t receive “qualified immunity” from her school testimony that Khan raped her following a Halloween party in 2015.
Qualified immunity protects people from being sued for statements they make in judicial cases or “quasi judicial” cases.
But the high court said the university hearing wasn’t a stand-in court proceeding, since Khan wasn’t given the opportunity to cross-examine the accuser.
“For absolute immunity to apply under Connecticut law,” the June decision says, “fundamental fairness requires meaningful cross-examination in proceedings like the one at issue.”
During the hearing, Khan’s team listened to the woman’s testimony from a separate room and never got the opportunity to question her. The court ruling said this left his defense attorney to act as a “potted plant.”
The court also said the Yale hearing couldn’t be considered quasi-judicial because they didn’t make the woman testify under oath and they didn’t provide Khan’s side with a transcript of the testimony.
Khan, a native of Afghanistan, started attending the school on a full scholarship in 2012 and majored in neuroscience.
His education was completely derailed after the rape allegations in which the 21-year-old acquaintance claimed that he took advantage of her when she was extremely drunk following an off-campus Halloween costume party.
At trial, Khan’s lawyers argued the encounter was consensual.
Khan was suspended from classes amid the allegations and then returned to school after his 2018 acquittal — despite widespread opposition to his return, including a petition with 78,000 signatures.
He was ultimately kicked out of the school in 2019.
The accuser’s lawyers and Khan’s lawyers didn’t immediately return requests for comment Sunday.