The State of Connecticut wrapped up it’s evidence in the case of State v. Saifullah Khan today. The State presented a few witnesses from the State Forensics Lab, and Yale New Haven Hospital to testify about the sexual assault kit, also known as the rape kit. The sexual assault “kit” refers to the evidence collected by the medical personnel who examined and swabbed the victim’s body. The swabs get tested for semen and DNA.
Unfortunately most rape victims destroy the evidence when they take a shower. Women need to be educated that after an assault the last thing they should do is take a shower. Even urination and vomiting gets rid of evidence that could be very helpful in the State’s case. In the case of Khan the victim testified that she took a shower because her body was dirty, with sweat, vomit and bodily fluids. Understandable, but not a good idea if you want to convict your perpetrator.
The medical personnel and scientists who work for Yale New Haven Hospital and the State of Connecticut testified that the two condoms found in the victim’s dorm room tested positive for Khan’s sperm. No semen was found on the vaginal swabs. The DNA of an unknown male was found on an anal swab. How did that happen? I expect the attorney for Khan, ie., Norm Pattis, to argue in closing that there was some mishandling of the evidence, or that the DNA could be from Richard Gayler, whom Norm is trying to point the finger at. Richard Gayler was with the victim that night, and started to date the victim a month later.
The courthouse was packed. Reporters from the New York Times, the New Haven Register, the Yale Daily News, and the Communist New Haven Independent were there. I think I was the only blogger. I sat next to a young woman who was drawing pictures of Khan.
After the State of Connecticut rested it’s case at 11:53 AM, Norm Pattis filed a motion to dismiss for lack of evidence, which was argued by the attorneys, and quickly denied. It was now Khan’s turn to present his defense. The first person to take the witness stand for Khan was Rabbi Shmuly Hecht. Norm had a little problem finding Shmuly at first. I overheard Norm muttering, “wheres the Rabbi?” Then I saw his associate Attorney Erwin run outside looking for Shmuly. Erwin came back in the courtroom and reported to Norm that Shmuly was nowhere to be found. Norm told Judge Fischer that Shmuly was supposed to be in court at 11:45 AM. It looked as if Shmuly was AWOL. Khan looked nervous. Shmuly then appeared out of nowhere. Everyone took their seats. The jury was called out. Shmuly took the hot seat.
Shmuly was wearing a navy blue sports jacket with gold buttons, a white striped shirt, and grey pants. He had thick glasses. His hair and beard were a bit overgrown. He is not a tall guy. He had the rapper Jew fro look. He smiled a lot. He is a hyper guy. It wasn’t clear if he was going to start testifying or start break dancing.
Before Shmuly began to testify the lawyers discussed with the judge the issue of priest / penitent privilege. The lawyers had discussed this issue with Judge Fischer at some time prior. Norm told Judge Fischer that his client agreed to waive the privilege. Norm said that he didn’t see any basis for it anyway. The priest / penitent privilege prevents a clergyman from disclosing anything discussed with the congregant. Was Norm trying to claim, at one point, that Rabbi Shmuly was Khan’s rabbi?? Khan is a Muslim. Is it possible for a Muslim to have a rabbi?
The clerk read Shmuly the oath: “do you swear or affirm under penalty to perjury that you will tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you Gd.” Rabbi Shmuly interrupted him and said, “we don’t say that, we don’t swear…” Judge Fischer interrupted both of them, and said, “will you take the affirmation?” Shmuly said that was ok. Shmuly affirmed to tell the truth under penalty of perjury.
Norm began his questions. Norm first wanted to clear up any confusion that the jury had about the Rabbi not taking the oath. Norm bellowed to Shmuly and the jury, “Now you didn’t take the normal oath, and you don’t swear to G-d, can you please tell the jury why do you not swear to G-d?” Shmuly looked confused. A deer in headlights. How do you explain such a concept? You could start by reviewing the basic laws found in Tractate Nedar (oaths) in the Talmud. That could take a few hours. Or you could give a ten second response that doesn’t make any sense. Shmuly wasn’t sure what to do, so he just sat there and stared back at Norm. After an awkward silence, Norm loudly blurted out, “Isn’t it because you don’t take the name of the Lord in vain?” This broke Shmuly out of his trance. Shmuly and Norm started to talk about Lord, the oath, swearing in vain. It started to sound like a Southern Baptist radio show. Judge Fischer told them to move on.
Rabbi Shmuly testified that he was employed at Shabtai for 20 years. He said he was ordained as a rabbi in Australia. He said he also runs a real estate operation on the side. Shmuly has a very large real estate operation “on the side.” Shmuly testified that Shabtai was originally known as the “Chai Society” and then changed to “Eliezar” and then to “Shabtai.” Norm asked Shmuly whether Senator Corey Booker was a founding member. The State objected. Judge Fischer allowed the question. Norm got that information right off the Larry Noodles blog. I expect Norm to send me part of Khan’s retainer if Khan is acquitted.
Shmuly described Shabtai as a “Jewish intellectual society for all students.” Norm asked Shmuly whether Khan was Jewish. Shmuly replied, “I don’t believe him to be Jewish but I don’t know, he could be.” And the Pope could be Jewish too. Norm asked Shmuly whether Shabtai was a secret society. After a very long awkward pause, Shmuly said, “I don’t think so.”
Norm asked Shmuly whether Jews celebrate Halloween. Shmuly said “I don’t celebrate Halloween, I don’t think there is a violation, but it is not something Jews celebrate, we celebrate Thanksgiving but not Halloween.”
Norm asked Shmuly whether he had a Challah-Wing Party in 2015, and whether invitations were sent via Facebook. Norm asked Shmuly whether he was pronouncing the word Challah properly. Shmuly said he was getting there.
Shmuly testified that alcohol was served at the Challah-Wing party. Shmuly stated that there was an outside bartender who carded the students, and there were about 100 people at the party. Shmuly testified that he didn’t know the victim. He said that Khan was not drinking at the party. Shmuly said he knew Richard Gayler, the friend of the victim whom Norm is trying to point the finger at. Richard was also at the party.
Norm asked Shmuly to explain what the “Havdalah” ceremony was all about. Norm even asked Shmuly to spell the word Havdalah. Norm obviously read my blog where I pointed out that the goyim in the courtroom were clueless about Jewish rituals, and were improperly referring to Havdalah as a “spice dance ceremony.” Shmuly cleared up the confusion with the following rapid fire phrases: “smell cloves, extra soul, light candles, separation of the week, secular, profane, Saturday night, wine, make blessings….” Norm looked completely confused and decided to move on. Better to have the jury think of it as a “spice dance ceremony.”
Norm asked Shmuly whether he had anything to drink at the party. Shmuly said he drank a bit of wine, as wine is used in the Havdalah ceremony. Shmuly said he wasn’t intoxicated, tipsy or slurring his words. Shmuly said he may have served some alcohol, but he didn’t really remember.
Norm asked Judge Fischer if he could show a video of the Havdalah ceremony to the jury. The State objected. The State wanted to know who took the videotape. Shmuly said “probably my wife” but he wasn’t sure. Shmuly blurted out, “it was passed all around Facebook.” Judge Fischer told Shmuly not to volunteer information. Judge Fischer allowed the jury to see the videotape. I couldn’t see the videotape because only the jury could see it, but I could hear the sound. You could hear kids in the party laughing and talking. You could hear Shmuly giving a little speech about Havdalah, and then Shmuly and the students singing. Shmuly testified that he and his brother Moshe said the prayers. The video was over in about two minutes. If anyone has a copy of this videotape, please forward to me, I don’t want to have to file another motion like I did with Avi Hack’s videotape.
Norm continued to reveal his ignorance about Havdalah, even after Shmuly’s clear and coherent explanation. Norm asked Shmuly, “Is there a ritual dance that accompanies this ceremony?” Shmuly replied, “There is no formal ritual dance but we may have danced.”
Norm started to ask Shmuly questions about the walk from Shabtai to Woolsey. Shmuly couldn’t remember exactly who he walked with, he said he walked with a group that included Khan. Shmuly said that Khan had his ticket to the concert at Woolsey. Shmuly said he couldn’t remember if he saw the victim in the rotunda.
Shmuly testified that at Woolsey he sat with his brother Moshe, Richard Gayler, Khan and the victim in a row in Woolsey. Eventually Richard Gayler moved away from the group to a seat a few rows behind the group. Shmuly said he felt bad for Richard because he was sitting alone, so Shmuly joined Richard. Norm’s theory is that Richard was jealous of Khan and the victim so Richard moved his seat away from the group.
Norm asked Shmuly if he “noticed anything unusual about the victim and Khan” while they were seated together. Shmuly was evasive. Norm kept rephrasing the question. Shmuly kept asking him to explain the question better. Norm got mad. Norm scolded Shmuly, “Did we talk yesterday??” Norm clearly needs a vacation. You don’t scold your own witness in front of the jury. Shmuly finally answered, “They were enjoying the event and having a good time, I don’t want to say flirting, can I say flirting judge, I wasn’t sure if I can use that language, but if I can say flirting…” Judge Fischer interrupted Shmuly and said he can use the word “flirting.” Judge Fischer interrupted Shmuly many times during his testimony, as Shmuly couldn’t stop talking. The judge and the lawyers kept telling Shmuly that his testimony would go a lot quicker if he would just answer the questions directly.
Norm asked Shmuly about what happened next in Woolsey. Shmuly testified that the victim “threw up a few minutes later.” Norm asked Shmuly whether the victim appeared inebriated. Shmuly said “I don’t know what inebriated means, I saw her throw up, someone can be inebriated and not appear inebriated, I can’t tell just by looking at their face, there has to be some actions that they are doing, I wouldn’t know if someone is inebriated, and…” The State objected on the grounds that Shmuly was being non responsive. Shmuly was just rambling and not really answering the question. Norm told Shmuly to slow down. In front of the jury Norm again scolded Shmuly: “Remember I told you in the hall you have to slow down when you talk.” You don’t Normsplain your own witness in front of the jury. Norm should have learned that in his first year in law school.
Norm asked many questions about when and why Richard and Shmuly moved their seats a few rows back. On cross examination the State tried to get Shmuly to say that they moved their seats back because they didn’t want to smell the victim’s vomit. Norm tried to get Shmuly to say that they moved because Richard was jealous of the victim and Khan and didn’t want to sit next to them. Shmuly had no idea that he was in the middle of a mine field. After much questioning Shmuly said that he thought Richard was upset. The Judge wouldn’t let Shumly testify as to why he thought Richard was upset. Too much speculation.
Norm asked Shmuly about whether he went out to get the victim water after she vomited. Shmuly said he told the usher that he was a rabbi and needed water for a woman who just vomited. He said he gave the water to the victim and then went back to his seat. He said Khan sat with the victim and took care of her, helping her drink the water. On cross examination the State asked Shmuly, “You see a student vomiting and you don’t call for medical attention?”
On cross examination State’s attorney Pepper asked Shmuly what his position was at Shabtai. Shmuly said he is employed as the “rabbinical advisor.” Pepper asked Shumly, “In your statement to the police didn’t you say that he were the executive director because ‘I am the only adult.'”
Pepper asked Shmuly whether he was friends with Khan. After a long pause Shmuly said he was “friends.” Pepper asked Shmuly whether they were “good friends.” After another long pause Shmuly said he was “good friends.” Pepper asked whether Shmuly was “very good friends” with Khan. After another long pause Shmuly said, “good friends.”
The State’s attorney Pepper asked Shmuly, “didn’t you tell the police that you took a bottle from the bar with a shot glass because you didn’t want to have to keep going up the to the bar.” Shmuly told Pepper that he couldn’t remember what he said two years ago to the cops, but if it was in the transcript then he must have said it. Shmuly kept getting confused by the questions and was not providing a direct response to the lawyers. At one point Judge Fischer said to him, “the question is not that complicated” to which Shmuly responded while laughing, “I don’t have a photographic memory, if that’s in the paper of what I said then I must have said it.”
The State’s attorney asked Shmuly whether Khan came to him for advise after the investigation. Shmuly responded affirmatively. Pepper asked, “Do you consider yourself to be an influential person with the Yale administration?” Shmuly responded, “In some matters.” The State tried to hammer Shmuly, “Did Khan go to you after the arrest because you were affiliated with Yale and influential with Yale? What did you do after Khan told you about the arrest?” Shmuly testified: “I immediately emailed Dean Holloway that I had a Title IX issue, and wanted to talk.” The State asked, “Didn’t the Dean tell you that he was the last person in the investigation and that he could not speak with you?” The State continued: “Did Khan ask you to go to the administration?” Shmuly said Khan didn’t ask him to do anything. Shmuly testified that he reached out to Dean Holloway and Dr. Gordon to see if anything could be done. The State asked, “Were you acting on behalf of Khan?” Shmuly responded: “What does that mean, I wasn’t his attorney.”
On redirect examination Norm asked Shmuly whether he was on a first name basis with the President of Yale. Shmuly said yes. Norm asked Shmuly if he knew the name of the President. Shmuly said the President’s name was Peter Solovoy. The State objected, and argued to Judge Fischer that Shmuly should have answered the question, “Who is Peter Solovey?”
After the State finished asking Shmuly questions, Attorney Pepper told Judge Fischer, “I have no further questions.” Shmuly asked Judge Fischer if he can go. Judge Fischer said, “Yes, unless you want to stay.”
Norm called a few witnesses from the Yale Police Department. Norm tried to convince the jury that these police officers were in a conspiracy to frame his client. Norm’s theory was that because Yale received Federal money under Title IX, they had an incentive to use that money for prosecutions. Norm also tried to argue that at the time of Khan’s arrest Yale was under a lot of pressure for not taking sexual assault on campus seriously. Yale was under scrutiny in 2014 in a case involving the basketball captain who was expelled for allegedly raping another student. I overheard someone in the courthouse halls say that Khan was one of a few alleged rapists whom Yale wanted to bring criminal charges against. Judge Fischer didn’t let Norm ask this line of questions to the jury, but he tried nevertheless.
Norm called Sargent Hoffman to the witness stand. Norm asked Hoffman why there was an emergency school suspension of Khan before the investigation was completed. Hoffman testified that she had a “duty and responsibility to warn the community of a danger after a serious crime has been committed.” Khan got very emotional when she said these words. He reached for a tissue. Attorney Erwin patted him on the shoulder.
Norm’s last witness for the day was a woman named Habasa. Habasa is Khan’s girlfriend. Habasa met Khan at an elite private school in Lakeville CT. Yale sent Khan to Hotchkiss a year before he went to Yale. Both Khan and Habasa were from families who fled Afghanistan when the Taliban invaded. They made their way to America and into elite American colleges.
Habasa is attractive, has a nervous smile, speaks slowly, and softly, with a Middle Eastern accent. She seemed nervous on the witness stand. She testified that she lives in Baltimore and works at John Hopkins University as a researcher. She wants to go to medical school some day. Habasa is very intelligent. She speaks seven languages. She is a neuroscientist.
Habasa testified that she has been involved in a long distance open sexual relationship with Khan for the last six years. Habasa lives in Maryland and Khan I believe lives in California. They are together but if they want to have sex with a different partner they are free to do so.
I don’t believe Habasa. Habasa is 23 years old, very attractive and very intelligent. She could do a lot better than Khan. Girls like Habasa don’t have long distance open sexual relationships. Girls from traditional Muslim families don’t sleep around, its a grave sin they are taught at an early age. Intelligent, attractive girls use their brains and looks to find the best catch out there, get married, settle down, have kids, go on vacations, and eventually sleep with the tennis pro at the country club. They don’t have long distance open relationships with guys like Khan for six years.
Habasa’s story is the heart of Khan’s defense. Habasa testified that she knew the victim. Habasa spent a summer at Yale and was in a physics class with the victim. Habasa testified that Khan called her on Halloween night of 2015. Habasa testified that she spoke with Khan for a few hours. She said she also spoke with the victim for a minute. While Khan was having sex with a random floozy in Connecticut he called his girlfriend Habasa to discuss politics at 2 in the morning.
Norm must have been tripping on acid when he came up with this defense. The case wasn’t going so bad for Norm up until he put Habasa on the witness stand. Norm was poking some holes in the State’s case. Norm raised some issues of reasonable doubt. But at this point Khan’s odds are not very good. The only issue will be whether Khan is convicted of sexual assault in the first, second, third or fourth degree.
Tomorrow morning Khan will be taking the witness stand. May the Lord have mercy on Khan… Jail is no place for young Khan. He will end up with other sexual offenders in Brooklyn, Connecticut. He should at least request to go to Brooklyn. He should avoid Cheshire, Somers and Enfield at all costs. If he needs any advise on how to survive prison, my fees are very reasonable.