The young man who has for months been publicly accused of being a “serial rapist” by Emma Sulkowicz–known as “mattress girl”–is now suing Columbia University for not preventing her public vendetta against him. To shore up his lawsuit he has released dozens of texts and Facebook posts that suggests that, far from spurning him, “mattress girl” was pursuing him sexually.
Sulkowicz has made herself famous for carrying around a thin mattress to highlight her claims that fellow student Paul Nungesser raped her while she was drunk and unconscious in August of 2012. She even alleged he sodomized her against her will.
Both the university and the media have been uncritical of Sulkowicz’ claims and have treated her accusations as true. Her claims have drawn national attention and generated hundreds of news stories. Without a doubt Sulkowicz’ campaign has made college life a living hell for Nungesser.
But now Nungesser is fighting back by suing the school for breaking its own policy of protecting the privacy of both the accuser and the accused as police and school administrators investigate the rape claims. Late in 2013 the school and local authorities determined that there wasn’t enough proof to charge Nungesser with rape and dismissed all charges. Despite that, though, Sulkowicz and the media have continued to state factually that Nungesser is a rapist.
Now he is suing to stop the harassment. The young man is not just throwing a lawsuit at the wall and hoping it sticks, though. He has dozens of texts that seem to throw a heavy blanket of doubt on claims Sulkowicz made characterizing Nungesser as an unwanted pursuer, a harasser, and a rapist.
In fact, the texts from Sulkowicz appear to show a young woman enamored with Nungesser, one who was pursuing him, not rejecting him. Many of the friendly, and sometimes sexually explicit, messages were also sent long after Sulkowicz claimed that Nungesser had raped her.
Additionally, some of the messages from Sulkowicz ask Nungesser to engage in certain sexual practices, including sodomy.
However, Nungesser is not suing the girl. He is suing Columbia and alleges that the school broke its policy of keeping the private information of both sides in confidence. He even charges that the school indirectly funded the attacks on him by allowing a school-funded club to engage in rallies against him.
“President Bollinger thus displayed a contemptible moral cowardice in bowing down to the witch hunt against an innocent student instead of standing up for the truth and taking appropriate steps to protect Paul from gender based harassment,” the filing says.
Nungesser’s attorney, Andrew Miltenberg, also added, “This case is not about Emma Sulkowicz. It is about Columbia University as an institution, which was not only silent, but actively and knowingly supported attacks on Paul Nungesser, after having determined his innocence, legitimizing a fiction. Emma Sulkowicz is merely a footnote to this story.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org