A man accused of raping his classmate at Yale University on Halloween in 2015 has been found not guilty of sexual assault.
A jury found Saifullah Khan, now 25, not guilty on all charges of sexual assault in the first, second, third and fourth degrees in one of the rare instances in which college rape on campus allegations were tried in court.
The woman had told police that Mr Khan took advantage of her in her dorm when she was drunk and raped her; Mr Khan insisted that she had initiated the sexual conduct.
As The New York Times reports, during the trial Mr Khan’s lawyers repeatedly tried to discredit the woman’s version of events. The defence questioned how much she had to drink, her memory and what she was wearing that night (a black cat costume). Mr Khan’s lawyers asked the victim why she had not opted for a more modest costume such as “Cinderella in a long flowing gown”.
A spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told the Times that the defence’s questions were “all victims’ worst fears in coming forward”.
“It is very intentionally working to trigger victim-blaming and stereotypes and misconceptions about sexual assault,” she said.
As Yale Daily News reports, Mr Khan, a native of Afghanistan who was studying cogitative science, was suspended by Yale after his arrest. His lawyer is now calling on the school to reinstate him.
“We’re grateful to six courageous jurors who were able to understand that campus life isn’t the real world,” his lawyer, Norm Pattis, said in an email after the verdict.
“Kids experiment with identity and sexuality. When an experiment goes awry, it’s not a crime.”
Yale has not commented on the verdict.