Columbia University has reached a settlement in one of its most controversial cases of alleged sexual assault. Paul Nungesser, who was accused of raping a fellow classmate who became known as “mattress girl,” will receive a settlement. Emma Sulkowicz carried around a mattress on campus in protest, even taking the mattress to graduation. She received college credit for the protest as a form of performance art. Nungesser had lost twice over motions of dismissal and was pursuing an appeal
Sulkowicz alleged that Nungesser raped her when she was a sophomore in 2012, but an investigation by Columbia as well as the police rejected her claims and cleared Nungesser. Nungesser accused Columbia in the lawsuit of “abetting the woman’s gender-based harrassment” but supporting her protest.
Nungesser (who wants to be a filmmaker) sued Columbia for gender discrimination in a 2015 lawsuit, but has lost in court with two dismissals. He was pursuing an appeal when the settlement was announced, according to the Columbia student newspaper. Sulkowicz claimed Nungesser raped her when she was a sophomore in 2012.
Columbia issued a statement that Nungesser had been found not responsible for sexual misconduct after a “diligent and thorough” investigation. It added that “Columbia University stands by that finding. Columbia recognizes that after the conclusion of the investigation, Paul’s remaining time at Columbia became very difficult for him and not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience.”