Columbia Settles Lawsuit With Male Student Accused Of Rape in “Mattress Girl” Case

200px-ColumbiaNYUCoat.svgColumbia 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.”


26 thoughts on “Columbia Settles Lawsuit With Male Student Accused Of Rape in “Mattress Girl” Case”

  1. Just saying that an investigation should be left to law enforcement does not deal with the problem for the university, which existed before things started going off the rails and continues to exist. How to deal with a situation in which one student asserts that another student has harmed him or her. Schools, especially residential or small ones, still have to determine how to deal with the continuing attendance of both, often in the same residential areas or classes. There are also levels of misconduct which may not justify criminal charges (either because of local law enforcement’s priorities or because the conduct does not met all the elements of a criminal charge), but would justify academic disciplinary action. There are also timing issues, in that the school must deal with attendance by both while law enforcement proceedings wend through the legal system. “Just leave it to law enforcement” is not adequate to address all the issues for the school.

    1. Except that when it comes to matters of “sexual assault” those investigations should absolutely, 100% be handled by law enforcement, not any department in a University.

      I would suggest that once you remove that class of “harm”, as well as straight up “assault”, Universities shouldn’t have much trouble figuring out how to navigate the the world of one student vs. another.

      And if you’re talking about “assault” in any form, if there isn’t enough to bring charges by law enforcement, that’s the end of it. Furthermore, if it becomes something akin to “harassment”, well, law enforcement has a way to deal with that too – restraining orders. Again, big problem for liberals and SJWs alike is that still requires some burden of proof and the notion that you are innocent until proven guilty.

  2. She received academic credit for carrying around the mattress??? Maybe this occured at Evergreen College???

  3. Carrying around a mattress is a lot of work ! Tough way to get a grade in a course.

  4. Universities must have their own autonomous police forces as should every institution, corporation, and individual because we can’t have a strong centralized government telling us what to do. That’s why.

    1. “…as should every institution, corporation, and individual…”

      How does an individual get his own police force?

  5. Title IX presents a major problem in the normal investigation of rapes or sexual assaults on college campuses. The statute provides certain protections and privileges for victims which are inconsistent with investigations by law enforcement.

    This problem is presently on display in the states attempting to enact legislation requiring colleges/ universities to report these crimes to local law enforcement rather than maintaining the entire process on campus using campus police. Such proposed legislation is being vigorously opposed by feminist and other groups focused upon women’s rights because investigations by law enforcement would conflict with certain provisions of Title IX.

    I believe the above situation is now on display over the Hudson River in New Jersey.

  6. It seems to me that walking around with a mattress on your back is not the best way to forward your claim that sex was involuntary.

  7. Am I the only who is surprised that a complete investigation did not clear him before this? Color me SURPRISED!!!!! There was no investigation and he got no defense. All that came under Constitutional lawyer Obama and was dictated to the public universities.

    Now do you fear for the Constitutional law his students actually learned? And do you fear for the result on their clients?

  8. I hope that the company, which manufactured the mattress, sues the mattress girl, for insisting upon dragging its product–both literally and figuratively–through the mud.

  9. College faculty and administrative staff have no business investigating sexual assault or any other serious crime. Leave it to the police and professional investigators.

    1. That is 100% correct Tin.

      Over the decades I have seen how the growth of bureaucrats and the reliance on untrained and inexperienced persons having law enforcement types of authority rarely works. Bureaucrats are the worst offenders.

      One of the reasons for this is emotionalism and politics infesting due process and criminal procedure. A quality of effective and professional LEOs is having leadership skill.

      Leadership is either present or it is not in a person. My experience is that if a person does not have leadership ability by the time they are 25 years old, they will rarely achieve this. Those in authority who have lacking leadership skill tend to abuse whatever power they have often for petty, self-serving, or ulterior causes. When complimented with lack of oversight it is a dangerous combination.

      Rather than understanding the underlying purpose of what investigation involves: determining truth as to causation of an event; ascertaining if a violation occurred; locating suspects / victims if there are any; and presenting a complete and balanced information to prosecutors if warranted. Instead they are often affected by confirmation bias and a singular determination to “get someone” despite either questionable or mitigating evidence. Couple this with ignorance of the law, self-serving or political infestation, or other malfeasance it is probable that an accused will not receive fairness from the system.

      To a lesser extent I tend to believe that campus police tend to be to greatly influenced by bureaucrats at the institutes and when faculty is involved as suspects undue influence and lack of will to prosecute comes about. Moreover, students who can be in the sights of administration who then become subject to greater enforcement and officers are pressured to have little discretion due to the insanity of zero-tolerance programs (which are universally a bad idea in the criminal justice system for many reasons).

      I favor in many respects campus police departments being administered by a local sheriff’s office.

      1. I agree, except that I feel that campus police should really be campus security guards. Why should a university have its own police force like it is a city or a Native American reservation? Leave the investigations to the professionals, and wait until all the facts are in until the university acts.

        Very few things raise my ire like a fraudulent claim of rape. I visited my friend’s roommate in the hospital after a vicious assault. The doctors told us she had so much damage to her body it was like she had been hit by a car doing 70. She was on a first date and was kidnapped out the back door when she went to the ladies room. Her date was cleared and not a suspect, nor did any of us believe him to be. She was dumped in the parking lot hours later. Her entire head was so swollen I couldn’t recognize her. Due to her head injury, she had amnesia and couldn’t remember what happened to her. Most frightening, she had absolutely no idea what her attackers looked like. She could walk right by them and not know. Forensic analysis listed the damage to her poor body, and the nature of the assault, but she will probably never know what exactly happened and who was responsible. Police suspected it was related to one of the local biker gangs. It’s difficult to understand that level of terror, and how someone would put together a happy life after that. The not knowing. I lost touch with my friend, but often think of her roommate whenever a case like that comes up.

        How DARE anyone steal the compassion and support that true victims deserve? How dare anyone knowingly, falsely accuse an innocent man? Because anyone who actually commits such an act as the girl above suffered is truly evil and a waste of life. Such selfish acts of petty revenge or attention seeking cast doubt on the stories of real victims. Shame on her.

        1. Tragic; I cannot imagine the struggle that poor woman had putting her mind and body back together.

          My college-aged sons describe their interactions with fellow female students who attend women’s studies classes on campus (@public institutions, mind you). The young women regularly censor the men’s part of the conversation and use phrases like “Words are like stones; “you throw acid at me when you say things like that” It’s complete nonsense.

          1. I’ve met a disfigured person from an acid attack. My bet is that the words are nothing like throwing acid at someone. Maybe the person who makes this sort of claim should have acid thrown on them, then they can elect to use the analogy going forward.

          2. Cape Cod Skeptic – if it make you feel any better, I used to torture the Women’s Studies students when I had them in class by phrasing questions so I knew smoke would be coming out their ears. I would ask the question, watch the smoke rise and smile.

    2. That would be far too sensible for today’s university administrations. But only partially their fault. The OCR requires universities receiving any federal funds to investigate harassment and assault claims or lose funds.

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