Man Accused Of Raping 'Mattress Girl' Wins Lawsuit Against Columbia University

Columbia University has settled a lawsuit with Paul Nungesser, the student accused of raping by Emma Sulkowicz, also referred to as "Mattress Girl." Sulkowicz gained international attention after she carried the dorm room mattress she was allegedly assaulted on around the university campus all semester long.  

The ordeal first began in August of 2012 when Sulkowicz accused Nungesser of raping her in her dorm room.

She alleged that what began as consensual sex turned violent and non-consensual after Nungesser began choking and raping her anally. While two other female students came forward to accuse him of sexual assault, Nungesser was found not responsible for any sexual misconduct. 

Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carried the mattress in protest of the university's lack of action after she reported being raped during her sophomore year on September 5, 2014.

Sulkowicz vowed to carry the mattress everywhere she went until the university expelled the rapist or he left willingly. The protest also doubled as her senior thesis project. Sulkowicz further carried the mattress along with her as she walked during graduation in May of 2015.

A university investigation conducted in December of 2013 found Nungesser not responsible of any sexual misconduct. 

Nungesser's recent lawsuit against Columbia claimed the university failed to protect him after the college investigation cleared him of rape allegations. He stated that because of Sulkowicz's art project, he faced discrimination and argued the university violated Title IX by allowing her to receive academic credit for a project that encouraged protest against a fellow student.

The case was first filed as a federal discrimination lawsuit in 2015, thrown out by a court in March 2016, refiled, and then dismissed again in March 2017.

Another appeal was being planned when the settlement was reached on July 10. It's unknown how much Columbia paid to settle the case with Nungesser.

"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," the college said in a statement published on a Columbia student website.

"We are very pleased with this settlement," said Andrew Miltenberg, Nungesser's lawyer and a specialist in Title IX cases.

Following the accusations, Sulkowicz left a legacy by creating a platform to discuss campus assault. Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), earned her the cover of New York magazine standing alongside the mattress and several feminist awards for the statement made due to the gravity of her experience. 

Paul Nungesser, the accused man, is now pursuing a career as a filmmaker and is enrolled in a film school. In recent months, Emma Sulkowicz has been furthering her performance art in the realm of BDSM.

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