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lawsuits

Columbia student accused of rape sues the university and its president, says they did not protect him

Paul Nungesser, a Columbia University student who was accused of rape by a classmate, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit Thursday in Manhattan against Columbia, President Lee C. Bollinger, and Prof. Jon Kessler.

Emma Sulkowicz says that Nungesser raped her in a dorm room in August 2012, while Nungesser says they had consensual sex; he was later cleared of responsibility in the rape claim by Columbia. Sulkowicz made headlines when she began to carry a mattress around campus to bring attention to what she says happened to her, and turned it into her senior thesis, "Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)."

In the lawsuit, Nungesser claims that he is the victim of a harassment campaign by Sulkowicz, and Kessler approved the project and "publicly endorsed her harassment and defamation." He also said Columbia "refused to protect him," and was a "silent bystander." Sulkowicz was not named in the lawsuit, and in an email to The New York Times, said, "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." Nungesser is seeking damages that will be determined at trial for harm caused to his reputation and the loss of educational opportunities and future job prospects.