Aired on BBC Two in March 2019, The Night in Question sees Louis Theroux head to a number of US college campuses and come face-to-face with students accused of sexual assault. At the start of this journey, Louis meets a neuroscience major called Saif Khan, who has been accused of raping a fellow student. His university is investigating the claims separately, even though Saif has been found not guilty in a court of law. Louis also meets young women whose claims of sexual assault have previously fallen on deaf ears, but whose experiences are a powerful reminder that there is now a broader understanding of what sexual assault looks like.
This is such a difficult subject to express an opinion about because there’s rarely any evidence on either side of a rape case, which is why it’s so difficult to believe either people involved 100%.
You start off watching this thinking, “It’s great to see a documentary looking at a rape case from the other point of view for a change,” because false allegations do happen a lot and they can ruin people’s lives, just as much as a proven case can.
But both sides of the case open up the same issues. It becomes a test of personality as to whether you believe and trust somebody since there is often nothing else to rely on. And that’s the problem with Saif Khan. I wanted to trust him and to believe in his courageous honesty. But, innocent until proven guilty and all that, you know that there’s something dodgy about him. He’s cocky and completely unsympathetic, so it’s no surprise that it doesn’t all add up about his recollection of the date when it all comes down to the facts.
There’s so much more that can be done with this subject, and other documentaries have explored campus rape in much better and fuller ways, but it is an interesting stance to look at campus rape in the light of new campus measures.
If for nothing else, I will always enjoy seeing Louis Theroux putting himself in a painfully awkward situation and asking the most simple but also twisted questions to find out the truth.
The Night in Question is still available to watch on the iPlayer now.