Columbia student cleared of rape sues school

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Columbia Student Cleared Of Rape Sues School

A Columbia University student who was accused and cleared of rape last year is suing the school for not protecting him.

You might remember Emma Sulkowicz, the student who carried a 50-pound mattress around campus in protest after a judge threw out her case, clearing Paul Nungesser of rape charges.

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Columbia student cleared of rape sues school
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, poses with a mattress, which she says she will carry every where she goes 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/Columbia Spectator)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/Columbia Spectator)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/TIME)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/TIME)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/TIME)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/TIME)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/TIME)
Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, has pledged to lug her mattress around daily until certain action is taken. (Credit: YouTube/Columbia Spectator)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29 : Students stand in front of the Library of the Columbia University with a mattress in support of Emma Sulkowicz's project against sexual assault, 'Carry That Weight' in which she carries her mattress around campus until her alleged rapist is expelled from the university in New York, United States on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29 : Students stand in front of the Library of the Columbia University with a mattress in support of Emma Sulkowicz's project against sexual assault, 'Carry That Weight' in which she carries her mattress around campus until her alleged rapist is expelled from the university in New York, United States on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz (L), a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of three strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of two strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz (L), a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of three strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz (L), a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of three strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz (R), a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of two strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, poses with a mattress, which she says she will carry every where she goes 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of two strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz (R), a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of two strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of three strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of two strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Emma Sulkowicz (L), a senior visual arts student at Columbia University, carries a mattress, with the help of three strangers who met her moments before, 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. Sulkowicz has said she is committed to carrying the mattress everywhere she goes until the university expels the rapist or he leaves. The protest is also doubling as her senior thesis project. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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Nungesser says things didn't go well for him after the case was dropped. The lawsuit accuses the school of enabling Sulkowicz to humiliate him and destroy his future.

According the suit, a Columbia-owned website presented as fact that he sexually assaulted Sulkowicz and that a professor approved her mattress project as part of her senior thesis for course credit.

The lawsuit says, "Columbia University's effective sponsorship of the gender-based harassment and defamation of Paul resulted in an intimidating, hostile, demeaning ... learning and living environment."

Columbia's president offered a general statement, saying, "The law and principles of academic freedom allow students to express themselves on issues of public debate; at the same time, our legal and ethical responsibility is to be fair and impartial in protecting the rights and accommodating the concerns of all students in these matters."

Sulkowicz's story gained international attention and prompted college students from more than 130 campuses around the world to bring mattresses to Columbia University in support of her and raise awareness about sexual assault.

Her protest has won her awards from the 'Feminist Majority Foundation,' the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women and it even got her a seat at the State of the Union Address.

In response to the suit, Sulkowicz told the Associated Press, "I think it's ridiculous that Paul would sue not only the school but one of my past professors for allowing me to make an art piece. It's ridiculous that he would read it as a `bullying strategy,' especially given his continued public attempts to smear my reputation, when really it's just an artistic expression of the personal trauma I've experienced at Columbia. If artists are not allowed to make art that reflect on our experiences, then how are we to heal?"
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