A university investigation from 2013 discovered Paul Nungesser, an worldwide student from Germany, maybe not responsible of sexual misconduct stemming from allegations by fellow sophomore Emma Sulkowicz. CNN doesn’t normally name individuals in sexual assault cases, but in this example, both parties have spoken openly about their experience.
Regardless of the finding, Nungesser said he had been harassed and ostracized by Sulkowicz along with her supporters. To protest the results of the university evaluation, Sulkowicz conducted a mattress round campus at a performance piece called “Carry that Weight” that attracted global attention. Nungesser was never charged with a crime and denies the allegations, saying that they continue to dog his efforts to pursue a career as a filmmaker.
Nungesser sued the school in 2015
, devoting his right to an education free of gender-based discrimination has been violated. He took aim in university President Lee Bollinger and Sulkowicz’s visual arts professor who gave her charge for its operation as part of the senior thesis.
The litigation was dismissed
in 2016 on the grounds that his claims didn’t constitute sex-based discrimination. He refiled the lawsuit and it was dismissed in 2017, a conclusion he appealed. While the appeal was pending his attorney said he began talking about Columbia about a potential resolution.
“He’s not sure if he could keep his name. He is concerned every time he gives his name out, whether it is to get work or on a date,” Nungesser’s attorney, Andrew Miltenberg told CNN. “He is concerned that no matter what he accomplishes professionally or otherwise that this will create a problem.”
Together with all the discreet settlement, Miltenberg stated Nungesser obtained what he had long sought from Columbia.
It “gives Paul a chance to continue with his life also recuperate in the false accusation against him,” his attorney said in a declaration. “We hope that the resolution of the situation also ensures that no student will ever need to live what Paul went through later he had been exonerated.”
The college said it stands with its own finding, reached after “a diligent and thorough investigation,” he had been found not responsible for any misconduct. Nungesser graduated from 2015 in Columbia in good standing and can be now registered in film school in Germany.
“Columbia recognizes that after the decision of the investigation, Paul’s remaining time in Columbia became very tricky for him and not what Columbia would need any of its pupils to encounter,” the school said in a declaration.
“Columbia will continue to review and update its policies toward making sure that every pupil — accuser and accused, such as those like Paul who are found not responsible — is treated respectfully and as a Complete member of the Columbia community . ”
The controversy has come to be yet another footnote at the ongoing debate over university investigations, known as Title IX investigations to the federal civil rights legislation which prohibits gender-based harassment. It’s a problem that new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has graduated from “listening sessions
” throughout the country, pitting due process rights of those accused against concerns for survivors’ safety and well-being while investigations are pending.
The harassment continued after the analysis concluded, Nungesser stated in his lawsuit, when Sulkowicz switched “her private vendetta” to a senior thesis. She brought the mattress to her graduation and walked across the stage with it. Meanwhile, the Nungesser’s name appeared on a “rapist list” from Columbia bathrooms, the complaint said.
“President Bollinger revealed no people esteem for a pupil in Paul, who was being chased by Emma’s campaign of false charges of criminal behavior which the University had determined lacked any substance. President Bollinger thus displayed a contemptible moral cowardice in bowing down to the witch hunt from an innocent pupil rather than standing up to the truth and taking proper actions to protect Paul from gender-based harassment,” the lawsuit stated.
“Sulkowicz’s harassment campaign couldn’t possibly have been as prevalent and as pervasive without Columbia University’s actions and inactions,” the suit included.
Sulkowicz declined to comment on the settlement. At a 2015 email she told CNN: “It’s ridiculous he’d read it as a ‘bullying strategy,’ especially given his continued public attempts to smear my reputation, when actually it’s only an artistic reflection of their personal trauma I’ve experienced in Columbia.”
She continued, “if performers are not permitted to make artwork that reflects on our experiences, then are people to cure?”
In reaction to Columbia’s announcement, victims’ rights group End Rape on Campus explained that it stood by Sulkowicz and also criticized the faculty.
“Broadly speaking, managing perpetrators of sexual attack as victims isn’t only uneducated, it is reckless and harmful,” said Annie Clark, executive director of End Rape on Campus.
“Columbia’s announcement isn’t surprising given our existing civilization, nevertheless; its own words are reminiscent of institutions and media outlets who continue to assert perpetrators’ lives are damaged by such allegations.”