In a 46-page opinion, Judge Woods dismisses Nungesser’s second lawsuit alleging that the university violated his Title IX rights and two state laws in its handling of Sulkowicz’s mattress-toting campaign to have him expelled from campus. The case is dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning Nungesser is prohibited from filing a third suit on the same claims. Nungesser’s suit said Sulkowicz “enabled reporters to stalk [him], defamed him as a ‘serial rapist,’ and her campaign resulted in public intimidation, isolation on campus and receipt of threats against him.” He described himself “male victim of gender-based harassment” at a federally funded university that did nothing to intervene, a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Woods argued that there was no proof Sulkowicz’s actions were “motivated by gender” or that she deployed the term “serial rapist” as a gendered slur. As to his claim that harassment deprived him of educational opportunities at Columbia, Woods recognized that Nungesser’s “senior year at Columbia was neither pleasant nor easy,” but said the plaintiff’s case failed to meet the high bar set by Title IX for evidence. Nungesser’s lawyer:
We have carefully reviewed Judge Woods’ decision, and believe it to be erroneous in a number of critical areas. From the outset of this case, Judge Woods has been dead set against Paul Nungesser, which is further evidenced by his flawed reasoning in finding that the 101 page, extraordinarily detailed, Second Amended Complaint contains no viable causes of action. We are confident that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will reinstate the case.
Columbia decides, on appeal, that Nungesser is ‘not responsible” for sexual assault on Josie. Josie had claimed that Nungesser had followed her and tried to kiss her at a party. Initially the University finds Nungesser responsible, and he receives a “disciplinary probation” sanction, a warning that further violation of University policies will likely result in more serious disciplinary action. Josie:
It didn’t change that something shitty happened to me or that he’s walking around. But it did feel good that the system worked…And then the feeling when they were listening to his appeal and they gave it to him was the worst feeling in the world.
When Nungesser asks for an appeal, Josie declines to participate due to work conflicts. The University decides Nungesser is “not responsible”. The University sends her Paul’s letter by accident.
We were unable to determine that it was more likely than not that you engaged in behavior that meets the definition of sexual assault: non-consensual sexual contact. Therefore, the charge has been dismissed.
I was surprised that they listened to the appeal; I was not surprised that they overturned it. I wasn’t there. My testimony was not included. It was different panelists.
Columbia decides that Nungesser is “not responsible” for any assault on Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz claims the university investigator had taken inaccurate and incomplete notes, that the man she had accused had been granted months of postponements and that she had been warned, repeatedly, that she could not discuss the case with anyone.
I’ve never felt more shoved under the rug in my life.
She says she struggled to respond to a panelist who seemed to believe that anal sex without lubrication is impossible.
[They] kept asking me to explain the position I was in. At one point, I was like, ‘Should I just draw you a picture?’ So I drew a stick drawing.
She says Nungesser testified that she had imagined that he had coerced her. She says Nungesser told the panel that if Sulkowicz is a fencer she would have strong legs, so as a lightweight rower he could not have pinned her legs down. He claimed the sex was consensual and that he ejaculated on Sulkowicz, who grabbed a tissue, wiped the ejaculate off, and “ ‘threw the tissue away’.
None of which is true—he never came that night. He just stopped and ran away.
On the decision, Sulkowicz:
I didn’t even cry at first. I don’t know. Has anything ever happened to you that was just so bad that you felt like you became a shell of a human being?