The Associated Press is reporting that a Columbia University student repeatedly accused of being a serial rapist is suing the school, alleging that Columbia did nothing to protect his reputation after both school and law enforcement authorities rejected the case of his accuser.
Paul Nungesser, a German citizen, claims that a website owned by Columbia University has presented as fact that he had sexually assaulted onetime friend Emma Sulkowicz, a senior majoring in visual arts. Sulkowicz has drawn worldwide publicity to her case via the “Mattress Project,” in which she carries a mattress around campus, and intends to bring it to graduation, as part of her senior thesis.
Visual arts professor Jon Kessler, named as a defendant in the case, approved the “Mattress Project” for college credit. “Carrying around your university bed — which was also the site of your rape — is an amazingly significant and poignant and powerful symbol,” he told the Columbia Spectator. Nungesser says the project and resultant publicity have harmed his career prospects; Sulkowicz counters that “really it’s just an artistic expression of the personal trauma I’ve experienced at Columbia.”
Writing for the Washington Examiner, Ashe Schow reports that days after Sulkowicz’s original appeal to the university was denied, she sought advice from a publicist and shared Nungesser’s name with the New York Post, despite a confidentiality agreement with Columbia. His name eventually appeared in Columbia’s school newspaper alongside the allegation he was an unpunished rapist. His lawsuit includes a map of 35 countries where Sulkowicz’s claims of rape were covered.
A spokesperson for Columbia said the university had no comment. Nungesser’s complaint can be read online.