Former Yale Student Acquitted of Rape Files Defamation Suit Against 15 Women’s Rights Groups

‘The Scarlet Letter of being branded a rapist is following me everywhere. When does this stop?’ Saifullah Khan says.

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The Yale campus. Getty Images

A former Yale student, Saifullah Khan, who has become a poster boy for fighting back against Title IX and the excesses of the #MeToo era, is now suing 15 women’s rights organizations and an attorney who aided his rape accuser.

Mr. Khan was accused of rape in 2015 by a classmate at Yale, but he was acquitted of all charges in 2018 in a criminal court. His new lawsuit, filed in Hartford Superior Court on May 14, accuses 15 domestic violence and rape survivor groups of publishing knowingly false and defamatory information about him when they called him a “rapist” in an amicus brief filed in 2022 with the Connecticut supreme court — years after he was cleared of all sexual assault charges.

“Despite the jury’s verdict of not guilty, Defendants, organizations with assets exceeding $200,000,000 and an experienced attorney, repeated allegations as facts,” the complaint says.

This was only the beginning. In 2019, Yale expelled Mr. Khan after conducting its own Title IX investigation and finding him liable for sexual assault. A native of Afghanistan, Mr. Khan sued Yale and his Jane Doe accuser for $110 million in a defamation case that is making its way through the Second United States appeals circuit.

The defendants in Mr. Khan’s new lawsuit are 15 women’s organizations that filed an amicus — or “expert” — brief in support of Jane Doe in the Yale rape defamation case. In that brief, they call Mr. Khan a “rapist,” and there is a sentence that says “the Plaintiff raped her.”

The Connecticut supreme court rejected the amicus brief from the women’s groups in 2022, until it was — as the court put it —  “shorn of all facts not supported by the record.” The groups removed the “rapist” language and resubmitted it, but the original brief is still available to download in the court’s online filing system. The women’s nonprofit groups also shared the brief with supporters and donors.

“They’re literally calling me a rapist. It’s not ambiguous,” Mr. Khan tells the Sun of the brief. “The Scarlet Letter of being branded a rapist is following me everywhere. When does this stop?”

Mr. Khan is hoping to make it stop through precedent-setting lawsuits. He is suing these groups and the attorney who wrote the brief, Jennifer Becker, for defamation, spreading knowingly false information, emotional distress, and abuse of the court system. There is no specified amount of damages. 

Mr. Khan’s attorney, Alexander Taubes, tells the Sun that one of the defendants, Legal Momentum, had a link to the brief on its website for some time. The women’s organizations also sent out fundraising pitches with the brief. He calls this an abuse of the amicus — or “friend of the court” — brief legal process.

“Ordinarily, an amicus brief would be entitled to what we call in Connecticut, litigation privilege, or also known as absolute immunity,” Mr. Taubes tells the Sun. “But these defendants disseminated it widely outside of court in an effort to raise funds for their organizations, and those statements and publications are not afforded any immunity.”

“They raised a ton of money. They just tell their donors, ‘Hey, we called some poor schmuck a rapist. We’re healing the world,’” Mr. Khan says. 

This case comes as President Biden’s new Title IX rules are set to go into effect August 1. Mr. Khan garnered attention last June when the Connecticut supreme court ruled that his accuser was not immune from defamation because his Yale Title IX “trial” was so devoid of due process protections it could not even be considered quasi-judicial. The Biden Title IX rules will revert to a similar system of lax due process protections. 

Mr. Khan says he wants first and foremost to clear his name. He also wants to get colleges out of the Title IX sexual misconduct investigation business and change how rape accusations are adjudicated in the American justice system. He says he has a four-point plan that involves getting rid of pseudonymity and immunity for accusers, prosecuting false accusers, and awarding large jury settlements.

Earlier this year, Mr. Khan disclosed the name on X of the Jane Doe who accused him of rape nearly a decade ago. Pseudonymity is traditionally given to rape accusers for protection.

The Sun left a request for comment on the voicemail of Ms. Becker, the lawyer Mr. Khan is suing, but has yet to hear back. The Sun also contacted the other 15 defendants in Mr. Khan’s suit. Only one responded by the time of publication.

“Thank you for reaching out to us at CAASE. We do not have anything to share at this time given the pending litigation. We look forward to resolving this matter,” the policy and communication director at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Madeleine Behr, told the Sun by email.

The New York Sun

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