Sulkowicz reports the alleged rape to Columbia’s Office of Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct. Nungesser:
My first reaction was, ‘It has to be a misunderstanding’. Maybe she meant a different guy, or something completely strange happened.
Nungesser is placed on restricted access to university buildings other than his own dorm, making it difficult to fulfill his duties as an audiovisual technician. He claims that within a few days, despite confidentiality rules, he starts to be shunned by fellow students.
Natalie reports Nungesser to Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct under “intimate partner violence” and “non-consensual sexual intercourse. Within days specially trained investigators designated by the Assistant Director of Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct, begin to gather “pertinent documentation materials” from both respondent and complainant. This information includes interviews and communications such as text messages and emails relating to the alleged assault. Interviews are also conducted with friends of the students. Natalie says of the interview process:
She [the investigator] would write things down that were abbreviations of what I said. Things that weren’t correct. It didn’t come out coherently. It didn’t sound like a strong case.
She claims Student Services never contacted a friend with whom she had discussed the alleged abuse during their relationship. Exhausted from final exams and moving out of her dorm for the summer vacation, Natalie tells Student Services she isn’t in the best mental or emotional space to represent herself and would rather push the hearing until after she had time to recuperate over vacation. When asked to review and comment on Nungesser’s statement, she says she cannot, and refuses the investigators request for her to mark X in the margins where she disagrees with his account. She then stops returning the investigators calls and emails, assuming that the case would continue in the following school year. Later she receives a mail from the investigator, saying the investigation has been closed.
Based on the information available from the investigation, there is not sufficient information to indicate that reasonable suspicion exists to believe that a policy violation occurred.
Sulkowicz reports Nungesser to the police. This is the first public mention of Nungesser’s name. She says that she didn’t want to report her attack to the police because she was embarrassed and ashamed of what had happened to her.
When it first happened, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t even tell my parents. … I didn’t even want to talk to my best friend….I realized that if I didn’t report him he’d continue to attack women on this campus. I had to do it for those other women. I understand if it’s too late, but I really hope he does [get charged].
Sulkowicz says she felt badly mistreated by the officers who came to her residence to take her statement. Because she and Nungesser had had consensual sex twice before he allegedly assaulted her, Sulkowicz said the police were dismissive of what she had to say.
There’s a reason survivors choose not to go to the police, and that’s because they’re treated as the criminals. The rapists are innocent until proven guilty but survivors are guilty until proven innocent, at least in the eyes of the police. [The officer] emphasized certain things, like the fact that I had consented earlier on in the night. And I said, ‘Yeah, but then he [Nungesser] started strangling me and I definitely didn’t consent to that’.
She says that the officer who had taken her statement dismissed her account to friends who had accompanied her to a follow-up interview at the station:
They told me he said stuff like, ‘Of all of these cases, 90 percent are bullshit, so I don’t believe your friend for a second.