A former Yale student who was kicked out of the school in 2019 after being accused and acquitted of rape in 2018 can now sue his accuser for defamation over statements she made during a school hearing on the matter after a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling over the summer.
According to the New York Post, 30-year-old Saifullah Khan has had a $110 million defamation lawsuit pending against the school since 2019, and has been fighting to bring his accuser into the suit.
In June, the state’s supreme court granted Khan’s request, and ruled that the accuser, a fellow student, shouldn’t receive “qualified immunity” from her testimony in a school hearing that Khan raped her after a 2015 Halloween party.
Qualified immunity protects people from being sued over statements they make in judicial cases, but the court ruled that the university hearing wasn’t a stand-in court proceeding, since Khan wasn’t allowed the chance to cross-examine his accuser.
“For absolute immunity to apply under Connecticut law,” the June decision states, “fundamental fairness requires meaningful cross-examination in proceedings like the one at issue.”
Khan’s team listened during the referenced hearing to the woman’s testimony from a separate room, never being able to cross-examine her. The ruling said Khan’s defense attorney was left to act as a “potted plant.”
The court said that Yale’s hearing couldn’t be considered “quasi-judicial” because the woman wasn’t made to testify under oath, and Khan wasn’t provided with a transcript of the testimony.
Khan started attending the Connecticut Ivy League school in 2012 on a full scholarship, majoring in neuroscience. A 21-year-old acquaintance claimed that Khan took advantage of her following an off-campus Halloween party when she was extremely drunk. At the trial, Khan’s lawyers said the encounter was consensual.
Khan was suspended from classes amid the allegations, but returned to school in 2018 after his acquittal, despite a petition with 78,00 signatures and widespread opposition to his return. In the end, Khan was kicked out of the school in 2019.
“We are delighted and look forward to trial,” Khan’s lawyer Norm Pattis said.
The lawsuit demands $110 million in damages on the basis that the school violated his rights, obstructed his degree completion, harmed his reputation, and breached his privacy, according to the Daily Mail.