Two jurors involved in the recent sexual assault trial against Yale University student Saifullah Khan are trying to correct the record when it comes to the school’s decision to find the young man not guilty. There is a lot more to this case than what has been reported (even more than I can fit in this article).
Elise Wiener, an alternate juror who was present for the trial and had access to the same evidence, testimony and information as the other jurors, told me the media is getting the facts of the trial completely wrong and maligning Khan.
“He’s innocent, and the facts prove it,” Wiener said. “He was acquitted because he deserved to be acquitted and the prosecutor should never have brought the case in the first place.”
Much of the media attention to the case has focused on two questions by Khan’s defense attorneys: What the accuser was wearing and how much she had to drink. These questions have been labeled as “victim-blaming” by current activists.
The Evidence That Swung The Jurors
As to how much the accuser drank, part of her accusation was that she was too drunk to consent, so asking how much she drank is clearly logical. By her own admission, it didn’t appear as though she had drank enough to become as intoxicated as she claimed. She claimed she had two drinks that contained two-fingers height of rum mixed with soda. She also said she had another drink with one-finger height of bourbon.
Then she and her group left their first party to attend a concert at Yale’s Woolsey Hall. Another man, whom the accuser would end up dating a few weeks later, told the court that when they left the party, the accuser was four-out-of-10 on a scale of drunkenness. But when the group arrived at Woolsey Hall a few minutes later (and without consuming additional alcohol), the accuser was now apparently an eight-out-of-10. Sure, the alcohol could have hit her suddenly, but it didn’t sway the jury.
Both Wiener and one of the main jurors, Jim Gallulo, said the question of how provocatively the accuser was dressed or not didn’t factor into their decision at all.
“The significance of the dress to me was another issue [besides whether it was skimpy or not],” Gallulo told me. By the accuser’s testimony, he said, one would think that she had vomited as if she had just gotten off an amusement park ride, but when the defense showed the dress, there was hardly any vomit on it at all. The prosecution didn’t even attempt to address this issue.
What actually factored into their decision was video surveillance of the two returning to their dorm building. “That’s when the case really fell apart for her narrative,” Gallulo said.
The prosecution had claimed that Khan had to help the woman walk because she was so intoxicated, but Gallulo said the video showed Khan with his arm around her shoulder and her arm around his waist. The video also shows her grinning at 12:40 a.m. (this will be significant in a moment).
“When the prosecutor first put it up on the video, I thought it was a happy couple that was going to be a witness to see him leave her dorm room,” alternate juror Wiener told me. “She was not limping or being dragged – she was arm-in-arm with him.”
Evidence showed that Khan used his card to swipe into the accuser’s dorm room. Less than a minute later, he swiped into his own room. Khan says she called him after he left and asked why he didn’t go in with her. He returned to her room and said she asked him to go check on her friend, who had drank too much that night and eventually ended up in the hospital. Records show that Khan used his key to swipe into another area of the dorm where her friend was, then returned again to his accuser’s room, where she performed oral sex on him. She asked him to wear a condom, and gagged on it and vomited.
When the accuser went to shower, according to the jurors, Khan called his girlfriend at another school, with whom he had an open relationship. They spoke for at least an hour before he had sex with his accuser, according to Khan’s testimony. Khan says his accuser was on top, but she says she doesn’t remember having sex, except for a brief moment when he was on top of her.
Multiple people who have spoken to Khan after the trial asked him why he thought it was acceptable to call his girlfriend from the dorm room of a woman he had just been engaged with sexually, and he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.
That’s not to say that Khan is a callous womanizer. He grew up in an Afghanistan refugee camp. He was a bright child, and won a full ride to Yale, but had to attend the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut to get acclimated to America before attending. He had apparently never used a knife and fork before.
He and his girlfriend met at this school. She was also from Afghanistan in a similar program. They agreed to an open relationship since they attended different schools. He said it never occurred to him what a woman from another country might think of their situation or phone calls.
It was the verifiable evidence that contradicted the woman’s testimony that drove jurors to acquit Khan, not two questions from the defense. Wiener and Gallulo said they’re coming forward because of the death threats Khan is receiving.
He thought that being found not guilty in America meant his troubles would be over.