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Student accused of rape by ‘mattress girl’ files king-sized lawsuit against Columbia




Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress in protest of the university's lack of action after she reported being raped during her sophomore year on September 5, 2014 in New York City.
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress in protest of the university's lack of action after she reported being raped during her sophomore year on September 5, 2014 in New York City.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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Emma Sulkowicz has been carrying a mattress around Columbia University’s campus, calling artistic expression and using the project as her senior thesis.

It began as a protest of the way Columbia handled her sexual assault claim against a fellow student and one-time friend. Now, that former friend has filed a lawsuit against Columbia, arguing that the school didn’t do enough to protect him from the harassment that came along with Sulkowicz public display of protest.

The federal discrimination lawsuit states that Columbia was a “silent bystander” and turned into a supporter of Sulkowicz’s rape claim “by institutionalizing it and heralding it.” It also alleges that a professor, Jon Kessler, essentially supported the harassment by approving the project as Sulkowicz’s senior thesis. Paul Nungesser, the student she accused of raping her, is a German citizen and says that the accusations have made his daily life “unbearably stressful” and that he has been threatened by fellow students and is having difficulty finding a job for after graduation.

Nungesser says he and his one-time friend Sulkowicz had consensual sex, but she claims that he hit her, pinned her down, and raped her in August 2012.

Does Nungesser have a case against Columbia under Title IX for failing to protect him from harassment?

Guests:

Matthew Kaiser, partner at the law firm Kaiser, LeGrand (LA-grand) & Dillon PLLC. The firm has filed several lawsuits on behalf of men accused of sexual assaults on college campuses.

Erin Buzuvis, Professor at Western New England University School of Law and director of the school’s Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies