Alleged Yale Rapist Found Not Guilty, Thanks To Victim-Blaming Lawyer

“You could have gone as Cinderella in a long, flowing gown?” said the defense lawyer when the victim said she was wearing a black cat costume.



A 25-year-old Yale student was suspended by his university after he was accused of raping a classmate in 2015. However, thanks to a victim-blaming, rape-apologist lawyer, he was found not guilty.

Saifullah Khan was suspended during his senior year in college after a female fellow senior alleged he raped her after a Halloween party in 2015. The 24-year-old woman, who has not been named, testified that she drank too much that night and may have lost consciousness. When she woke up in her dorm room, she found Khan pinning her down and raping her.

Khan was charged with four counts of sexual assault, including use of force and having sexual intercourse with a person who is unable to resist.

However, Khan’s account of the incident was quite different. He alleged the woman herself was the instigator and had invited him to her room. There, she took of her blouse, asked him for condoms and then proceeded to have sex him. She did not in any way indicate she did not want to have intercourse with Khan. But, when she woke up the next morning, she was angry and blamed him for raping her and told him not to tell anyone of the incident, according to the New Haven Register.

Khan's defense team went on a victim-blaming tear in court.

Attorney Norman A. Pattis criticized Yale University for suspending the Afghani immigrant and told them to immediately reinstate him, saying the 25-year-old’s life had turned upside-down because of the allegations.

The lawyer then focused in on what the woman was wearing for a Halloween party: a black cat costume — on which she had vomited, a pretty clear sign the person is inebriated.

Pattis asked her why she didn’t wear something more modest, phrasing his question like this: “You could have gone as Cinderella in a long, flowing gown?”

He also questioned her in detail about the five drinks she had consumed that night and then asked her how she managed to manipulate the zipper of her tube top. Although the woman kept denying wanting to have sex with Khan, Pattis argued the “signals” she sent spoke otherwise. He said the fact she had gone to dinner with Khan, sent him a Shakespearean sonnet and used emojis in her text messages, meant she wanted it to happen.

“In the context of this case, those things matter. They had several meals together. They were flirty. She dressed in a costume that I'm sure she knew what message it was sending and that he found arousing and had said he did,” the attorney told BuzzFeed News. “When do people get a pass on the signals they send? Since when do you get to go out wearing something scanty that sends signals and not expect certain reactions? How you dress is no justification to be raped. But in the context of the evening the costume mattered. You have to own what you do.”

“You remember a lot more than you are telling us,” Pattis goaded the victim at one point. “Hadn’t you sat on Mr. Khan’s lap and kissed him?”

So what if she did? A kiss does not mean giving consent for sex.

The case, as The New York Times said, is rare, because only a very few campus rape allegations make it to trial. The high-profile case of former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner is one of the few exceptions and even then, the alleged rapist got away with a slap on the wrist. Perhaps that’s the reason why only 4-20 percent college students actually report sexual assault incidents to authorities.

The case also highlights the huge divide between the criminal justice system and the Me Too and Time’s Up movements.

Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Shannon Stapleton

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