Rape culture hardest hit
Sulkowicz never pressed charges and the university dismissed the case against the alleged offender. By carrying her mattress around, Sulkowicz made national headlines and also earned credit for her performance art.
Over the past few months, Sulkowicz’s version of events have been challenged by Nungesser’s accounting. Nungesser shared his side of the story and provided screen shots of text and Facebook messages to corroborate his recollection of the contentious tale. Following months of defamation due to Sulkowicz’s claims, Nungesser recently filed suit against Columbia University in an effort to clear his name.
Columbia made an exception to the rules that usually prohibit large objects at commencement ceremonies. The exception allowed Sulkowicz to carry her mattress across the stage.
Sulkowicz and her mattress graduated yesterday.
But today, there’s a new twist in the sordid mattress-wielding misadventure.
Cathy Young, the same reporter who brought us Nungesser’s side of the story at The Daily Beast, has another interesting revelation.
In Nungesser’s original account, three seemingly falsified claims of sexual misconduct were dismissed by the university. It seems yet another such allegation against Nungesser was dismissed in late April.
Young writes at Reason:
Now, I have learned that after a hearing in late April, Nungesser was found “not responsible” in this latest case—altogether, the fourth time he has been cleared of a sexual assault charge at Columbia. When Sulkowicz first went public a year ago, the fact that her alleged attacker was still on campus and had never been subjected to any formal sanctions despite being accused of sexual assault by three different women helped fuel the outrage. Yet the latest investigation strongly supports Nungesser’s claim, made in media interviews and in his lawsuit, that the multiple complaints were not independent of each other and may have been part of a vendetta stemming from the original charge by Sulkowicz.
Several days after Young’s article in The Daily Beast, Jezebel wrote an article that as young explains, “contained a new revelation meant to bolster the claim that Nungesser was a serial sexual predator: the existence of a hitherto unknown male victim, identified by the pseudonym “Adam.””
“Adam’s” claims, much like those of his previous accusers, were not apparent in any form of electronic communication. When such communications were produced, Nungesser’s version of the story was once again substantiated.
Adam, who also graduates this week, told Jezebel that “he was close friends with Paul during his freshman year in 2011” and that “one fall night, in the midst of an emotional conversation in Paul’s dorm room…Paul pushed him onto his bed and sexually assaulted him.” He claimed that after much self-doubt and internal struggle, he finally reported this incident, first to a student society to which both he and Nungesser belonged and then in a formal complaint to the university in the fall of 2014. Adam rather melodramatically lamented that my Daily Beast piece “invalidates and completely erases [his] experience.” It should be noted that, as accuser and accused in a sexual misconduct case, both Adam and Nungesser had presumably received the usual instructions from the university to “make all reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality/privacy of the involved parties.”
About three weeks prior to graduation, the hearing panel made its decision. It found for Nungesser. As is now the norm in campus sexual misconduct proceedings, the charge was considered under the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Thus, Adam could not meet the very complainant-friendly burden of showing that it was even slightly more likely than not that the offense was committed. Since there was no appeal, the case is over, and as far as Nungesser’s formal record at Columbia is concerned he is entirely in the clear.
Nungesser declined to be interviewed for this story, due to concerns that statements to the media might affect his lawsuit. However, through a source close to the case, I was able to review several documents related to Adam’s complaint—including, crucially, the report prepared by a two-person Title IX investigative team.
The gist of the complaint was that in November 2011, Adam, who lived in the same dorm as Nungesser and was part of the same social circle, went to Nungesser’s room to tell him he was upset about being “caught in the middle” of relationship drama between Nungesser and his then-girlfriend. (This girlfriend later became one of Nungesser’s accusers, known in several media accounts under the pseudonym “Natalie”; she claimed that Nungesser had psychologically and sexually abused her throughout their relationship. The case was eventually closed after she stopped cooperating.)
According to Adam, during this conversation Nungesser asked him to sit on the bed, rubbed his shoulder and back, then “gently” pushed him down and proceeded to stroke his leg and finally massage his crotch “for approximately 2-3 minutes” while Adam froze in shock. He was finally able to muster the will to get up and leave.
Adam told investigators that he spoke to Nungesser’s girlfriend about this; however, he didn’t seem to remember when, or what her reaction was. At one point, he said that he “assumed” he had told her immediately afterward, and “it wasn’t until months later that I realized that I had not and she was unaware.” He also claimed that he avoided Nungesser after the alleged assault, and that Nungesser eventually texted him and then messaged him on Facebook; according to him, Nungesser was upset with him for telling Natalie about their sexual contact, but also suggested that they get together for coffee.
Nungesser’s story was quite different. He said that he confided in Adam about his and Natalie’s relationship troubles, that there was no sexual contact of any kind, and that later on he was dismayed to learn that Adam had recounted their conversation to Natalie.
The Facebook exchange, which Adam himself eventually found and turned over to the investigators, did not exactly help his story. Far from showing avoidance of Nungesser, it showed Adam seeking him out, complaining that “our friendship has been negatively affected” by Nungesser’s relationship problems and that “we’re less close/you’re preferring it that way.” It also showed Nungesser saying, “It was obviously pretty hard for me when I found out that you shared my entire conversation that I had with you with [Natalie], because I had assumed that it was confidential.”
The investigators’ report noted numerous contradictions in Adam’s account, as well as its drastic discrepancy with the Facebook record. Nungesser’s account, on the other hand, was not only consistent but matched by corroborative evidence. Adam’s credibility was further sunk by his rather fanciful complaints of “retaliation” by Nungesser in a class they shared. These “deliberately aggressive acts” consisted of sitting too close to Adam or to his friends, which left Adam “distraught and traumatized,” and complimenting some points Adam had made in a class discussion (which “felt like he was claiming a collective sense of power”). I am happy to report that, even on the trauma-happy modern campus, such claims of harassment are still recognized as, in the words of the report, “hyperbolic and illogical.”
In the end, the investigators concluded that Adam was “unreliable” and that his story simply did not add up, and recommended that Nungesser be found “not responsible.”
The story continues. Because Young has done some incredible work on this story and I do not wish to condense it, would suggest curious parties read her latest in its entirety here.
Suffice it to say, those who desire most to prove that campus rape is an epidemic continue to, themselves, be discredited.
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The family of Paul Nungesser, the student who was accused of rape by mattress-toting Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, have released a statement about their son’s graduation, calling their experience with the university “deeply humiliating.”
“Our son’s graduation should have been a joyous moment for our whole family. We are extremely proud of Paul for graduating, even more so because of the harassment campaign he was subjected to. For over two years, he had to fight false accusations and a public witch-hunt, even though Columbia and the NYPD exonerated him,” Karin Nungesser and Andreas Probosch wrote in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner…..
“Our son’s graduation should have been a joyous moment for our whole family. We are extremely proud of Paul for graduating, even more so because of the harassment campaign he was subjected to. For over two years, he had to fight false accusations and a public witch-hunt, even though Columbia and the NYPD exonerated him.
“At graduation, Columbia University again broke its own rules and afforded Emma Sulkowicz a special exception. It was the second devastating experience in just a few days: Last week, Columbia exhibited Emma Sulkowicz’s highly disturbing and extremely graphic drawings of our son publicly on campus.
“We have come to realize that at Columbia, not all are equal before its policy. What is the point of internal investigations if their outcome is not accepted? ….
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