Columbia student cleared of rape sues school

Columbia Student Cleared Of Rape Sues School
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.

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?"