Beyond Louis Theroux’s college campus sex assault doc

4 mins read

In Louis Theroux’s latest documentary, The Night in Question, he addresses the issue of sexual assault on US college campuses.

Available on BBC iPlayer, in The Night in Question Theroux focuses on one case in particular, that of a Yale neuro-science student named Saifullah Khan.

Saif Khan (left) and Louis Theroux Credit: Lottie Gammon/BBC

Accused of rape at Yale in 2015, Khan was acquitted of criminal charges last year and re-enrolled at the university, but still faced an internal committee investigation into the accusations.

US colleges’ proceedings in such cases require a lower burden of proof than a court of law. When fresh accusations by a former acquaintance of Khan, Jonathan Andrews, came to light – the dramatic twist of the doc – Khan was expelled from Yale.

The extraordinary, and at times, disturbing, dark and troubling doc may have got you longing to know more about the case and the enigmatic figures of Khan and Andrews, while prompting questions about the shady history of “DKE”, a Yale fraternity involved in ten recent sexual assault allegations.

Brig did some digging for you.

The costume

The alleged rape took place on Halloween in 2015. In court in New Haven, Khan’s lawyers not only highlighted the accuser’s choice of costume – a black cat outfit – but asked her why she had not opted for something more modest on the night in question. Khan’s defence even made a suggestion: “Cinderella in a long flowing gown.” After a two-week trial, the jury took just three hours to deliver a verdict of not guilty.

Khan’s studies

When re-enrolled at Yale, among Khan’s first module choices was a course called “The Criminal Mind”, a popular psychology class examining theories of criminal behaviour. He forwent gender studies however, commenting that would be “too on the nose”, and he was “taking the high road.”

Khan outside court during his trial. Credit: New York Times

The “rape hotel”

Andrews tells Theroux that he and Khan used to speak for up to nine hours a day by phone, but expanded on this to the university’s newspaper, Yale Daily News. Andrews claimed Khan once suggested the pair open a “rape hotel”, to which women would come willingly to be assaulted. Khan’s lawyer denies this.

Khan the “secret agent”

That lawyer, Margaret Valois, also advised Andrews in a sexual assault case. Valois once texted Andrews comparing Khan to a “secret agent”, and that “it’s like he’s always giving you some information but not all of it.”

Andrews found responsible for assault

Andrews dropped out of Hanover College after two accusations of sexual assault were levelled at him. After he dropped out, Hanover found him responsible for one of them. After speaking to him, Theroux narrates that Andrews’ former colleagues claimed he had made unsubstantiated accusations about people working at his advocacy group.

The Tinder profile

Khan’s Tinder profile picture, post-rape trial, showed him outside court during the trial. His bio requested potential partners to “be open to experiences.”

Yale’s ‘DKE’ frat houses. Credit: Google Maps

DKE’s past

The sexual assault allegations recently levelled at Brett Kavanaugh include one related to the Supreme Court Justice’s time at Yale, where he was a member of the fraternity referred to in The Night in Question. DKE can also count both President Bushes among its former brothers.

You can watch The Night in Question on BBC iPlayer here:

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