The Mattress Story Under More Fire

My recent article in The Daily Beast exploring previously unknown details of Columbia’s high-profile “mattress girl” rape case—including the fact that alleged victim Emma Sulkowicz continued to have chatty and playful Facebook exchanges with alleged rapist Paul Nungesser for weeks after she says he brutally violated her and choked her within an inch of her life—caused a predictable stir in the feminist media. The principal argument seems to be that to regard such behavior as at all relevant to the veracity of Sulkowicz’s claims is to hold rape victims to an impossible standard of perfection. (I responded to some of these arguments in a column for RealClearPolitics.) On Friday, the backlash took a new turn with a “rebuttal” on, a website that combines in-your-face far-left feminism with trashy celebrity gossip. While most of the Jezebel piece is an exercise in vitriol and juvenile snark, it also has some actual new content that purports to challenge my story but, in my view, actually generates more questions about the pro-Sulkowicz narrative.

This new content consists of Sulkowicz’s explanatory annotations to the Facebook messages (which she claims she decided not to give me because she was worried I would alter them) and the disclosure of a new, still-pending charge against Nungesser—this one from a male Columbia student who filed a Title IX complaint in October alleging that Nungesser sexually assaulted him in 2011. (Nungesser had been previously accused of sexual assault by two women besides Sulkowicz and cleared of those charges as well; as my article documents, there is substantial evidence that the multiple accusers in this case influenced each other.)

Sulkowicz’s annotations will undoubtedly convince those already disposed to believe her explanation that she was simply maintaining friendly appearances and trying to arrange to talk to Nungesser one on one to confront him about the rape. I find this explanation highly doubtful (though not impossible, of course) in view of the tone and content of these messages. Maybe “we need to have some real time where we can talk about life and thingz” could be an attempt to set up a conversation, maintaining a casual tone so as not to scare off Nungesser; but when he agrees and she adds, “because we still haven’t really had a paul-emma chill sesh since summmmerrrr,” that interpretation is hard to sustain.

Sulkowicz’s marginalia also drew my attention to another mind-boggling detail: when Nungesser invites her to a party already in progress in his room two days after the alleged rape, he mentions that there are currently too many guys and asks her to “bring some peepz.” Sulkowicz replies, “Okay let them know I’ll be dere w da females soon.” In her annotations for Jezebel, she clarifies, “Paul wants me to bring other girls. I agree.”

A young woman who was brutally raped two days ago agrees to bring girls to the rapist’s party and jokes about it?

A young woman who was brutally raped two days ago agrees to bring girls to the rapist’s party and jokes about it? I fully understand that a traumatized victim of a violent attack can behave irrationally, but too many things here strain credulity—including the fact that Sulkowicz seeks to discuss what she has described as, essentially, a psychopathic motiveless attack by meeting with the assailant in person.

Sulkowicz’s annotations add another bizarre wrinkle to the story. Her account of the day after the alleged attack includes the line, “I talk to one of my girlfriends, who explains that it was rape.” Maybe it makes sense that an Ivy League sophomore who is a leader in a freshman pre-orientation program would need it explained to her that it’s rape if you are pinned down and anally penetrated while you scream “no,” after being violently choked and hit in the face. But it’s noteworthy that in at least two interviews, in May and in September, Sulkowicz seems to clearly say that she told no one about the attack in its immediate aftermath and didn’t want to talk to anyone (which also seems at odds with her present claim that she wanted to talk it out with Nungesser). If Sulkowicz did in fact tell a friend that Nungesser raped her the day after the incident, that would be a crucial piece of corroboration (especially if the friend saw her in person and saw bruises on her arms and/or neck). According to both Nungesser and his student advocate, no friend of Sulkowicz’s testified at the hearing to offersuch evidence (which, if available, would have almost certainly ensured a finding in Sulkowicz’s favor). What’s more, how credible is it that after being told of such a frighteningly violent assault, Sulkowicz’s friend would not urge her to report it?

Finally, while I was researching my article, Sulkowicz told me by email that when she texted Nungesser in March 2013—three to four weeks before he was notified of her complaint—it was because she had already visited the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct and they asked if she had “‘tried talking it out’ with Paul,” so, “because they suggested it” she sent him a text message saying she wanted to meet but then backed down realizing thatshe was unable to face him. (When I emailed to ask if the office had actually suggested she contact Nungesser or simply asked if she had talked to him about the attack, she did not respond.) As I said in the article, when I contacted that office to ask if a student reporting a violent sexual assault could be advised to “talk it out” with the rapist, I was directed to Columbia’s “gender-based misconduct” policy which states that informal resolution is never recommended in sexual assault cases. In her annotations for Jezebel, Sulkowicz now has a different story: that after deciding to report Nungesser to the university, she “text[ed] him one last time in March to maybe talk things out with him before I report,” but then “realize[d] that this is a silly thing to do” and backed out of the meeting.

I realize, of course, that people’s memories are imperfect, especially when dealing with traumatic events. Nonetheless,when someone’s story keeps changing in fairly significant ways, it’s a potential red flag, and dismissing all such inconsistencies with the stock response “this is typical of rape survivors” is an invitation for people to suspend healthy skepticism.

Lastly, there is the matter of the new complainant, one “Adam,” who, in Jezebel’s words, “identifies as black and queer” and who says one night in the fall of 2011, “in the midst of an emotional conversation in Paul’s dorm room … Paul pushed him onto his bed and sexually assaulted him.” (The charge here is vague enough to cover everything from rape to an unwanted kiss.)  While “Adam” only filed a Title IX complaint last fall, after the massive publicity surrounding Sulkowicz’s mattress protest, Jezebel says that at some earlier point, he “filed a complaint against Paul with a student organization to which both men belonged.” That would be Alpha Delta Phi, the literary-oriented coed fraternity discussed at some length in my Daily Beast story because it played a role in one of the accusations against Nungesser (the complaint that he grabbed and tried to kiss “Josie,” a fellow ADP member, at a house party. As I showed,  Josie was encouraged to make this complaint (over a year after the fact) by an ADP officer who, upon learning of Sulkowicz’s sexual assault charge againstNungesser in April 2013, sent out a group email announcing that there was a rapist in the house and seeking his expulsion.

Significantly, this email (dated April 29, 2013) made no mention of a prior complaint against Nungesser by another ADP member.The officer noted that several other house residents had said he made them “uncomfortable.” When Nungesser provided me with a copy of this email during my research, I asked if any specific examples of other ADP members objecting to his behavior had ever been cited. He replied that this question had actually been raised during the investigation, and that no specific examples had ever been offered.

Does this disprove “Adam’s” complaint? No, but it does cast some doubt on his claim that he reported this alleged sexual assault before. The fact that he complains to Jezebel that my article “completely erases [his] entire experience”—but makes no such complaint against Sulkowicz, who has spoken only of Nungesser’s alleged attacks on women—suggests that there just might be a political agenda at work here. It is also worth noting that, as far as I know, pending sexual assault investigations at Columbia are supposed to be kept confidential; I’m fairly certain that disclosing the name of the accused is an actual violation of procedural rules. (UPDATE: In an email, David Stone, Columbia University’s executive vice president for communications, reiterated that the university does not comment on individual cases but referred me to the school’s official procedures for handling complaints of gender-based misconduct, which state that the school “will inform all individuals participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing that they are expected to maintain the privacy of the process.” Stone also noted that under the law, a university may not sanction or silence those who do choose to speak publicly about allegations of sexual assault.)

The full facts of this messy, convoluted case may never become known. But a few things are worth noting.

(1) The reaction to my Daily Beast story shows just how fanatical and irrational the “Believe the survivor” mindset of the campus crusade against rape has become. The insistence that Sulkowicz’s Facebook messages should not be regarded as exculpatory evidence, or even as relevant to the case, shows a profound and scary hostility to basic due process.

(2) This entire fiasco points to another very good reason (besides due process and professionalism) that rape cases should be handled by law enforcement and courts, not campus bureaucrats and star chambers. If Sulkowicz and Nungesser’s other alleged victims had reported him to the police and Sulkowicz was claiming that their rights as complainants were trampled, there would be a vast amount of documents that could be examined to assess the validity of this charge. There would be transcripts of court proceedings, copies of police reports, records of police interviews—all available to the media. Judges and prosecutors could talk to the media. Here, all the records are sealed as a matter of federal law, and all university employees involved in the case are forbidden to speak about it. As a result, all we have are dueling claims from the parties about what happened during the process.

(3) This story also points to a genuinely chilling climate of conformity and intimidation on college campuses. K.C. Johnson has already written about the article by former Columbia Spectator opinion editor Daniel Garisto admitting that the paper’s coverage of the Sulkowicz story has been hobbled by fear of being perceived as insensitive to sexual assault survivors. During my interviews with Nungesser and his parents, they madetwo other startling claims that did not make it into the Daily Beast article.

Nungesser’s father, Andreas Probosch, told me that Nungesser had a hard time finding a student who would agree to act as his official “supporter” (advisor/advocate) during the process. Meanwhile, when I asked Nungesser about his relationship with Columbia faculty, he told me that he is close to two professors who privately fully support him and believe in his innocence—but will not speak to the media on his behalf even if granted anonymity, fearing that they may be identified and that taking his side will make them campus pariahs.

If true, this is appalling—but, unfortunately, not surprising.


123 thoughts on “The Mattress Story Under More Fire

  1. If there is any doubt in your mind that Emma is lying, please read the below document:

    To give some brief details:

    -Emma is the first to encourage anal sex in a Facebook message, to which Paul effectively says no. She lies about having said that.

    -They had anal sex before the alleged rape. Emma lies about this.

    -Emma was highly promiscuous before starting a sexual relationship with Paul. She got an STD from Paul’s best friend and ALSO CLAIMED SHE WAS RAPED by him. She also had sex with other friends.

    -If you read their messages, Paul is clearly less fond of her than her of him. She grows continually frustrated repeating how much she loves and misses him and becomes jealous when he starts seeing someone else abroad.

    -SEVEN MONTHS after the alleged rape, she reports it, i.e. when she realises her love is not reciprocated.

    -She is still saying how much she loves him after the alleged rape and brings girls round to his room for a party TWO DAYS LATER.
    Two weeks later she messaged him: “”I love you Paul. Where are you?!?!?!?!” ”

    This may be one of the biggest and most serious false rape allegations considering how she is now socially and academically profiting from it.

  2. Following on my previous comment, to put it another way a rape survivor will always be reminded that they were raped, simply by the mere presence of anyone that knows about their rape. For the people we care about it is worthwhile fighting for them and keeping them in our lives, even though it means that while we’re in their presence an internal struggle will persist until the day we die. With that in mind, can anyone seriously consider that it’s a good thing to broadcast that they were raped to the whole world? How will a rape survivor ever find peace if there is not a single person left in their world that doesn’t remind them of their rape? I doubt that matress girl really was raped. Her casual, confident and relaxed body language doesn’t tell that story. But let’s just say she really was raped. Then she will never find peace. That would be very upsetting to those of us that also fight for finding our own peace after experiencing rape. Either way, whether she’s telling the truth or lying this story is very upsetting to a rape survivor. Advocacy for women’s rights, my ass.

  3. This story makes my blood boil. I’m a rape survivor and I’ve been through the whole process of getting my life back on track after being raped. It took YEARS and extreme, hard work to deal with the emotional fall out of rape. None of my recovery hinged on getting my society to acknowledge what happened. I found that my recovery was going much faster when fewer people were involved. It hinged on my own acknowledgement of being raped. It hinged on how I changed my approach of engaging with my rapist. Finally, it also hinged on accepting the fact that moral justice simply doesn’t exist. What gets taken away from a rape victim can never be regained. Ever. I’m still angry with society that it promotes this lie that somewhere there’s a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end, waiting to reward the rape survivor that shares their experience of being raped with the whole world. It’s a lie that set back my progress in recovering, substantially. There would be one reason to share a rape story when it is not to get help for oneself and that would be to prevent someone else from also being raped by the same rapist. These so called activists are doing so much harm to rape survivors with their theatrics. All I can say to real rape survivors is don’t get sucked into this mentality of displaying your victimhood. Believe me, you’ll only ever get treated like a victim for the rest of your life. Real rape survivors should talk to people, but for heaven’s sake talk to people that you can trust! Getting cheered by a college crowd for a statement that you were raped only happens in the fairy tales.

  4. A refreshingly balanced article. I am actually very sympathetic to the idea that a victim may be far from perfect and may even act friendly toward a perpetrator and may even say “I love you.” I tend personally to lean toward believing people like Emma and the fact that others make accusations further supports her.

    However, as the present article makes clear, there are a lot of worrisome red flags in this case. Being insensitive or selfish or superficial and having relationships where the sex is all that matters doesn’t make someone a rapist. It makes you immature and not a great guy, but not a rapist.

    This is reminiscent of the recent case at Brown in which the alleged victim sent the rapist an email in which she complained that he had manipulated her. As in this case, maybe she just isn’t a perfect victim and maybe he really did rape her, but the post-assault communication is going to raise doubt even for someone like me who is predisposed to assuming the guy is scum.

    If I were going to guess, I would say the Brown case was not rape but the Columbia case was rape. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. A victim doesn’t have to be perfect but he or she does have to give the rest of us something to work with.

  5. The Emma “The Mattress” Sulkowicz celebrity story may be the most outrageous false campus rape allegation of all time, even surpassing the Duke Lacrosse Team scandal and the Rolling Stone fiasco for the rape fable with the most traction. Google: Model of Campus Gender-Based Harassment: The Columbia University “Mattress” Story.

  6. I appreciate Cathy Young’s excellent work and her patience in dealing with certain rabid comments. It’s encouraging to me to see that it’s a woman who’s refusing to jump on the believe-the-accuser-no-matter-what bandwagon. As a feminist, I believe that rape is a serious problem in our society, and it shouldn’t be trivialized by confused young women hurling accusations at men who didn’t assault them. It seems pretty clear from the available evidence that Ms Sulkowicz is an attention-seeker who is seeking to ruin the life of a young man who probably didn’t do anything wrong. At worst, perhaps there was a miscommunication concerning her degree of enthusiasm for trying anal sex. Certainly there’s been no compelling evidence offered that he ever raped her. Her stories (plural because they keep changing) don’t add up. In any case, I’m glad to see another woman standing up for fundamental ideas like truth, justice and fairness.

  7. I salute Cathy Young. Clear-headed women who can weight both sides of the story are the ones who should be taking down female false-accusers.

    Frankly, I can now see why U.Va.’s newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, recently elected an all female board for the first time in its history. The dudes running things at the Cavalier Daily last year were not up to the job.

    They totally sat on their hands while Sabrina Rubin Erdely essentially bulldozed the entire University over a bogus rape accusation. It was a total embarrassment for U.Va.

  8. Cathy Young has handled this story with sobriety, courage, thoughtfulness and insight.

    To me, the texts are key evidence that the accusation of rape was either knowingly false or the product of a lot of garbled memories and emotions. It just defies credulity that a young woman who was brutally and anally raped, choked and hit by a man would, two days later, write the cutesy texts, invite a get soulful get together and be willing to bring other female students to the rapist’s party, and later on, tell her vicious rapist “I love you.” The analogy to victims of long-term domestic violence is completely off base; those are situations where women are economically and emotionally trapped by and living with an abusive man. It also says a great deal that Ms. Sulkowicz didn’t continue to cooperate with the police because they were too “annoying,” because the process would be draining, and because the process would awaken too many traumatic memories — yet somehow has the energy to carry on a huge media crusade.

    There really is a mob hysteria at work here. We’ve seen in in many societies, and in the US 30 years ago with the false accusations of child abuse in day care centers. It’s clear that universities have no business or competence in handling these cases.

  9. It is obvious when a serious crime–rape is a felony–has occurred, it should be reported to the police in order that a credible investigation of the alleged perpetrator is undertaken. Absent a complaint to police, such an allegation cannot be accepted as truthful. Everything else is gossip and innuendo. Why filing a criminal complaint with the police is a mystery to college students is a mystery. If misconduct is to be investigated, it appears Sulkowicz’s continuing objection to the University’s resolution of her allegation is a prime candidate.

  10. Reading between the lines of their communications, it is obvious she was begging him for more anal experiances. When it became apparant to her that he was no longer interested in her peverted desires, she chose to punish him in the most vile way,, a false accusation of rape..Once she was exposed as having manufactured the lie, she did not have the courage to tell the truth and elaborated upon it.

  11. Like al Leftists, Emma Sulkowicz is dishonest to her core, but genuinely believes her lying will “better” society, so she goes all-in with her Social Justice Warrior fraud. She should be behind bars.

  12. Poorly informed critics are resting much of their argument on the 4 accusers “fact”, but they don’t seem to know much about it. The 4 circumstances:

    1. Emma.
    2. A former girlfriend who doesn’t even allege to have withheld consent at the time, but claims to have retroactively come to see the relationship as manipulative essentially because she was depressed and insecure.
    3. An alleged drunken kiss.
    4. A new allegation with essentially no detail that has never been credibly reported anywhere.

    None of the other cases have the slightest relationship to the circumstances claimed by ES. Further ES admits encouraging those parties to make their accusations, so these are not independent events.

    So those claiming he’s a “serial rapist” should simply be rejected out of hand as ignorant ideologues.

  13. “Finally, while I was researching my article, Sulkowicz told me by email that when she texted Nungesser in March 2013—three to four weeks before he was notified of her complaint—it was because she had already visited the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct and they asked if she had “‘tried talking it out’ with Paul,” ”

    This is an extraordinary accusation on the part of Ms. Sulkowicz. She is claiming that she went to the University with an accusation of rape – a violent assault which is a felony – and she was told to go talk it out with him? Is that seriously her claim?

    1. That has been proven not to be true. While Columbia officials did not want to comment of her statements, they did say that they NEVER suggest to students to “work things out” with their alleged assailants. That is yet another proof of Sulkowicz fibbing, or twisting the truth. I hope the whole truth comes out soon.

  14. What facts? What details? There were a lot more details in our interview, obviously. I made every effort to independently verify what Nungesser told me, and everything I was able to check out did check out.

    On the other hand, I see no evidence that Jezebel made any effort to corroborate “Adam’s” claim that he made a complaint to Alpha Delta Phi about being sexually assaulted by Nungesser. Nor did they ask what should have been obvious questions of Sulkowicz, such as: Who is this friend whom you told about the rape the next day? Can she be contacted? Did she testify at the hearing and if not, why not?

  15. By now it’s pretty obvious that Sulkowicz, the daughter of two psychiatrists, had the grades to get into Columbia. So, “she’s smart enough.”

    While all boys growing up must be taught “not to stick it into crazy.” I don’t know when Nungesser realized Sulkowicz was one crazy broad, but he did so before she began carrying her mattress around campus.

    And? She’s also not such a popular dame that carrying the mattress around would be “out of character” for her.

    Yes, she’s pretty. And, besides the mattress, in the photo that’s gone very public, she’s wearing “short-shorts.” In other words? Her story doesn’t jibe with reality. On the other hand, the “mattress bit” certainly earned her a lot of attention.

    Perhaps the daughter of two psychiatrists just conflated the fact that “have mattress will travel.” And, for fifty bucks you can lay on the mattress and spout. (It’s supposed to be therapeutic.)

  16. I would like to address one aspect of the case that seems to have been relatively overlooked: the power realities between these two individuals– their relative privilege, so to speak.

    We all regretfully understand it when low-privilege individuals who are victimized by a crime hesitate to report it, let alone to press criminal charges. For a relevant example, if a poor black single mother is raped, she probably has little confidence that she will get justice even if she pursues it; she may be rationally afraid of reprisals from the rapist or his friends; she surely cannot afford a lawyer (and who wants to face the system without one?); she may not be very articulate and thus be afraid to testify in court; she may be an hourly worker who cannot afford to take time off for lengthy, repeated court appearances, and she may fear losing her job (as surely the rapist will claim it was consensual); she may fear any publicity that could come to the attention of child welfare (and her innocence is no guarantee of protection); as a struggling poor person her own record may not be pristine.

    Now please google Sulkowicz: Emma was raised in a wealthy super-achieving family in Manhattan, with a Jewish father and Chinese mother, both psychoanalysts. She was educated at exclusive private schools including Dalton. Her father is the principal of a very high-end consulting service that boasts many CEO’s of top US corporations as clients. The father, by the way, wrote a personal letter to President Bollinger. No doubt Bollinger knows how to google, and probably counts some of Mr. Sulkowicz’s clients among his major donors.

    Since truth is stranger than fiction, it still may be true that Ms Sulkowicz was raped just as she now charges, but was confused or ashamed or lacked the confidence to confront the criminal, report him on time, or press criminal charges– even though she does have the chutzpah and the PR skills to parlay her mattress into national and international acclaim. But it doesn’t seem likely to me. More likely, her memory and interpretation of what happened that night changed over time, which happens to us all.

    In any case, if I were a skeptic about the campus rape crisis, I couldn’t have wished for a better representative of the other side than Ms. Sulkowicz– whatever actually happened that night.

    By the way, Cathy Young’s piece was NOT the first to report Mr. Nungesser’s side sympathetically. Ariel Kaminer did so in the New York Times on December 21.

    1. That’s right Richard, and so were Emmett Till and the Central Park Wilders. Think of how much money we can save on the criminal justice system if we just convict based on an accusation. Better yet, let’s save even more money and just summarily execute the accused like with Till.

  17. I do not believe the incident ever happened and the girl is a troubled far left person ….. the guy is nothing special either but does not appear to be what he is accused of being

    also Sulkowicz & Nungesser need to learn English …. the messages are ghetto garbage

  18. I always read Cathy Young’s stuff. Some of the best reasoned pieces available. Even if I disagree, her thoughts and arguments are a pleasure to read.

  19. And folks, never forget, for since the days of the Clarence Thomas hearings;’ “The accusation is the proof”

  20. >> “false accusations are equally as bad as rape.”

    > Walk down the street saying that.

    I don’t think you can understand what a false accusation of rape does to a person until you have been falsely accused of rape. We have to believe whatever people who have been falsely accused of rape say.

  21. I think the JAP comment was uncalled for. However, I have to say that I really hope Sam Smith is a troll, rather than a person who actually holds these views.

    Not sure what “facts and details” I was supposed to ask Nungesser for. Pornographic details of what he claims happened between him and Sulkowicz? (Actually, there were some intimate details mentioned during our interview, with the understanding that they were being disclosed to give me a fuller picture of what happened and not for quoting. Those details add up, in his narration, to a fully consensual encounter.)

    I made every effort to check out everything Nungesser told me that could be verified. So far, it has all checked out. This doesn’t mean that he’s telling the truth about everything. I have repeatedly said that I don’t know if he’s innocent or not.

    As for your question about why he would be accused by members of the same fraternity: the group email I quoted from the fraternity officer makes it fairly clear that for many people, Nungesser became an outcast the moment it became known that a female student (and fellow society member) was accusing him of rape.

    1. Ms. Sulkowicz is doing some performance art directed at Mr. Nungesser. According to the dimwits who enjoy your writing, this is one of the worst crimes that can be conceived of–worse than rape, they shriek!

      Fine. Make a case, Mr. Nungesser. Sue for libel. According to the spoon-fed conservatives who enjoy your writing, it’ll be a slam dunk. After all, she spoke with him and met up with him afterwards, so the assault couldn’t possibly have occurred, right? And he was cleared by the university regarding his dealings with Ms. Sulkowicz–they didn’t find evidence of an evidence-less crime, so he must be innocent! Don’t worry about those other accusations, of course. Those probably don’t mean anything, even though they come from some of his closest friends. Let’s instead home in on the spoiled Jewish girl.

      If Mr. Nungesser won’t make a case, then his story is a non-starter. She can do what she wants in public until he makes an effort to defend his personal rights. That’s the plain legal truth of the matter. If he won’t defend himself, then I have no sympathy for his professed damages and I am left wondering what he doesn’t want to reveal.

      False rape accusations are so very rare that reporting on them raises a similar quandary as reporting on anti-vaxxers–you might be doing more harm than good by introducing the broad public to this extreme minority. Nevertheless, you endeavor to make this as big a deal as possible, to make it indicative of a broader pattern. The problem is, there is no broad pattern. I know sexual assault studies backwards and forwards and there simply is no statistical trend towards false accusations. It is extremely dishonest and damaging for you to baselessly claim otherwise. Argue against me on that and I *guarantee* that you will lose, because the facts are on my side. This is the best overview report: and virtually all of the other reports come to similar conclusions.

      You see what your audience is. Anti-Semites, Redpillers, Luddites, and know-nothings. Note that the one lawyer in this thread agrees with me. It’s contemptuous that you draw your paycheck by whipping these other people up into factless frenzy. This guy drew multiple rape accusations but he beat the cases. He has every right and power to counter-attack his accusers. If he won’t do that, then I don’t care what his facebook transcripts say–he’s done something wrong.

      1. Are there unsavory people who agree with me? Sure. That’s true of any position. Meanwhile a lot of people on your side argued that we should “believe Jackie” to the bitter end. I don’t really see much of a difference between misogynistic “redpillers” and feminists who argue that “every man is complicit in rape culture.”

        It’s very telling that you don’t hold it against Sulkowicz that she decided not to pursue criminal charges because it’s “too draining,” but are holding it against Nungesser that he has not filed a libel suit which would be not only draining but costly and in which he would face a very high burden of proof.

        Also, I’m curious if you would be equally anxious to defend “performance art” if Nungesser were to walk around campus with a large sign that said “The liar who accused me of rape is still on this campus”?

        Finally, false rape accusations are not “extremely rare” unless you assume that every single false accusation can be definitively proven to be false. I discuss some of the evidence here.

        On this note, I’m out of here. I have much better things to do with my time than arguing with a brick wall of “believe the survivor” fanaticism.

      2. Well this lawyer doesn’t and as I commented up thread, Jimb doesn’t know what he’s talking about, nor do you. You say Paul should sue for libel or you won’t listen to him. Fine, why doesn’t Emma sue him for assault? Any assualt is both a criminal matter and a tort for which the victim can sue the alleged assailant on her own in a civil court. So, are you going to refuse to believe Emma until she brings a civil assualt action against Paul?

      3. Someone had to have a brain fart when they wrote this:
        “She can do what she wants in public until he makes an effort to defend his personal rights. That’s the plain legal truth of the matter. If he won’t defend himself, then I have no sympathy for his professed damages and I am left wondering what he doesn’t want to reveal”.
        He was exonerated, so what personal right is Emma exercising that he should react to?
        It is extremely unfathomable and perversely hypocritical that Emma gets a “free pass” to deliberately violate (or at least, receive special dispensation from) Columbia’s Gender-Based Misconduct Policies as quoted below—ALL under the guise of “performance / protest art”. A number of people in positions of authority at Columbia are undoubtedly “asleep at the wheel” by allowing and abetting Paul’s objectification as the “PERFECT perp” in this katzenjammer. Are they unwittingly OR wittingly complicit in facilitating the fanatical feminist posse who don’t want that perfect perp bell un-rung? Basically, there are no perfect victims /survivors but there are perfect perps.
        1. As Martha Johnson 2-11-15, succinctly stated: “Meantime, in the real world, Mr. Nungesser’s name HAS been cleared, even by a process on the biased side of “legal’”, which was very much tilted against him”.
        2. Ergo, Emma is not protesting as a survivor of the rape culture or as a sexual assault activist. She has been given permission {tacit or otherwise} to harass one individual male, Paul, and concomitantly “diss” (besmirch) the College personnel who administered the process that Columbia used to exonerate him! Her adviser doesn’t see that her art project is aimed at one specific male individual and that it ceases to be an art project IF she drums (mattresses) him off the campus. She is toting the mattress around like Yosemite Sam non-verbally caterwauling “doggone rapist” be gone! That the mattress gig is nothing but an exhibitionist ploy to get even with not only Paul but his vindicators as well—and the vindicators remain silent about it—not in the name of free speech, but because they are playing ostrich; hoping their asses off that “this too shall pass”!
        3. Emma’s “oh woe is me performance” is a lesson in retaliation and vilification with impunity. The Art instructor is nothing more than an enabler and codependent in this form of public pillorying—AKA Emma’s brazen violation of the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy.
        4. As Cathy Young 2-16-15, exasperatingly posited: “Also, I’m curious if you would be equally anxious to defend ‘performance art’ if Nungesser were to walk around campus with a large sign that said ‘The liar who accused me of rape is still on this campus’?”
        5. Ergo, he would definitely be brought before the Gender-Based Misconduct police! Voila, the double standard is at work right before your Columbian administrators’ and art instructor’s eyes! It is absolutely mind boggling as to why someone on campus hasn’t adhered to or enforced the following Misconduct Policy provisos. Especially with all of the glaring evidence that has been available in print and photos all over the internet of Emma harassing and lambasting the living hell out of Paul while simultaneously demeaning the Columbia personnel that cleared him!
        Columbia University: Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students (including Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment Gender-Based Harassment, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Policies and Procedures for Students)
        Reporting Incidents of Gender-Based Misconduct
        All gender-based misconduct reports involving matriculated Columbia University students will be received and processed by Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct. Reports can be submitted by calling the Assistant Director for Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct (or designee) or in writing via a secure Web form available at the following website: Those reporting can click on the link to “File a report with Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct.” Students who wish to submit a report alleging gender-based misconduct can meet with the Assistant Director for Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct to learn more about the process and procedure. Students should be advised that the Assistant Director is obligated to act on any report of alleged gender-based misconduct. Students may also choose to file a report with the New York City Police Department or the local law enforcement agency where the misconduct occurred. The University system and police/legal system work independently from one another. Students can file reports with the University, with law enforcement, or with both systems. Because the standards for finding a violation of criminal law are different from the standards in this policy, criminal investigations or reports are not determinative of whether or not gender-based misconduct, under this policy, has occurred.
        Timeframe The University does not limit the timeframe for filing a report of gender-based misconduct. Reports can be submitted at any time following an incident, although the University’s ability to take action may be limited by the matriculation status of the alleged respondent. Every effort will be made to reach a resolution within sixty (60) calendar days after the receipt of the initial report. Timelines may vary depending on the details of the case and at certain times of the academic year (e.g. during break periods, final exam time, etc.). [Page 9]
        6. Emma’s “art protest project” is nothing but a publicity stunt with the song “FAME” as its sound track: “Remember my name, fame / I’m gonna live forever / I’m gonna learn how to fly high / I feel it coming together / People will see me and cry, fame”. In reality, it is a cunning feat of tagging Paul with a “scarlet letter”, and a euphemistic cover up of her disdain toward the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, Processes, and personnel. Emma has actually been rewarded and lauded by US Senator Gillibrand for committing a “masked” fraud and injustice. AND, evidently has been granted immunity (in the name of protest art) from any serious repercussions for the flouting and scoffing of these prohibitions:
        Definition of Violations Gender-based harassment. Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, stalking, or hostility based on gender or gender-stereotyping constitute gender-based harassment. Gender-based harassment can occur if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. In order to constitute harassment, the conduct must be such that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive academic or living environment. [Page 3 Emphases added]
        Stalking. A course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking involves repeated and continued harassment made against the expressed wishes of another individual, which causes the targeted individual to feel emotional distress, including fear and apprehension. Stalking behaviors may include: pursuing or following; non-consensual (unwanted) communication or contact – including face-to-face, telephone calls, voice messages, electronic messages, web-based messages, text messages, unwanted gifts, etc.; trespassing; and surveillance or other types of observation. [Page3 Emphasis added]
        Jurisdiction Under this policy, the University is able to investigate alleged incidents of gender-based misconduct: • that occurred on campus, or • that occurred off campus, but have migrated to or have created a hostile environment on campus; or • that were part of University programs (regardless of location), or • where the respondent is affiliated as a current matriculated undergraduate, graduate, or professional student4 [Page 9]

      4. The unified thunder of like-minded individuals at Columbia has been truly astonishing in our modern era. The shrill cry of ‘victimhood’ drowns any hope of blind justice. In some similar societies, auto drivers are dragged from their vehicles and beaten to death after accidents. As these Lemming Lions continue their drive out to sea, we may truly hold out hope that 1) the false accusers and their supporters grow to understand and appreciate why due process exists and 2) the true fools keep a good sound distance from the world’s legal machinery.

      5. It’s kinda funny that he did end up filing a law suit against the school… Now please don’t ask my ”Why isn’t it filed against her?”… Anyone would lose money in the process of taking an art major to court with very little chance of profitable return.

  22. Cathy young, I’m (per usual) impressed by your work. “Sam “;Very little to add to the mass of commenters who’ve used you like a pinata.The classic “The Importance of Being Fuzzy”, states the title group,”know how not to know”. The resemblance is obvious. I want to give a piece of advice from Jack Vance’s “Lyonesse” trilogy.
    “Change Utterly”.

  23. Reading Cathy Young’s powerfully persuasive articles and all of the comments they provoked from the “Jezebel / Mic” ilk; it was WHOA, the Emma Sulkowicz and Paul Nungesser brouhaha is definitely “life imitating art”.
    In essence, there is a very similar element seemingly embedded in the “mattress girl” scenario that resembles the coopting of a TV plot used in the Rolling Stone’s “Jackie” ruse. To wit, Emma’s “art project / protest” certainly and uncannily appears to be an adulterated version of the movie plot, “The Shape of Things”— where Emma is akin to “Evelyn” and Paul is akin to the unwitting “Adam”.
    The parallels between what’s actually happened between Emma and Paul (life) and in the movie (art), are so remarkable that after watching the flick, one can’t help but contemplate the possibility that Paul could have been rope-a-doped into becoming Emma’s Art research project by design and not happenstance!
    Here’s the “spoiler” synopsis for those not having the time to view the film:
    Here’s the synopsis and 136 reviews on rotten tomatoes of “The Shape of Things” starring Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd:

    Moreover, I wonder what the rubric or evaluative criteria is for Emma’s art project. It would certainly be an eye opener to view the instructor’s grading process—oh wait that would be a FERPA violation. She most certainly should get an A for being invited to Washington—so believability must be one of the criterion in the rubric!
    For all intents and purposes though, Emma blew the project by carrying the mattress—to be true to the type of art FORM that best conveys the rape culture narrative—the so-called burden she should have been carrying like a back pack, IS A MALE BLOW UP DOLL WITH PAUL’S NAME ON IT. It wouldn’t be as cumbersome and draining to carry around. I hope the instructor makes the art FORM one of the criterion in the rubric when assigning her grade!
    Speaking of annotations—Emma should also try to get extra credit in an English or Literature course for translating and annotating the Facebook messages to Paul (actually retrofitting them to conform to the fanatical feminist narrative) that she thought the “apologist” Cathy Young would alter—whaaat!
    One can also explain the 4 other complaints against Nungesser by what Kenneth Westhues refers to as “mobbing”:
    “The more clever and effective strategy is to wear the target down emotionally by shunning, gossip, ridicule, bureaucratic hassles, and withholding of deserved rewards. The German word Todschweigen, death by silence, describes this initial, informal stage of…mobbing.
    This is often enough to achieve the goal. Many targets crumble, flee….Others surrender to the collective will, behaving thereafter like a dog that has been bested by another dog in a fight for dominance.
    If the target refuses to leave or acquiesce, the mobbing may escalate to a formal outburst of aggression. Mobbers seize upon a critical incident, some real or imagined misbehavior that they claim is proof of the target’s unworthiness to continue in the normal give and take of academic life. A degradation ritual is arranged, often in a dean’s office, sometimes in a campus tribunal. The object is to destroy the good name… to expose the target as not worth listening to. Public censure by the university administration leaves the target stigmatized for life. Formal dismissal with attendant publicity is social elimination in its most conclusive form”.

    Find Dr. Kenneth Westhues research on “ganging up” and his “checklist of mobbing indicators here:
    And the rape culture proponent’s asininity will surely continue…blah bablah bablah

  24. Thank you, Cathy Young, for reporting a story that no one had bothered to write about.
    As someone interested in the search for truth, you have sharpened my understanding of this sad, sad, storyline. Now, from the outside, as an unbiased observer, it seems to me that there is either a serial rapist/abuser roaming Columbia or a very troubled student.
    Since Paul was repeatedly found not guilty, his judges, who were closest to the case, have made the decision for us. We need to answer one question, to paraphase Alan Dershowitz, – is the accusation of sexual assault so heinous that even innocence is not a defence? If it is, then we can save a lot of money and time and pain -no need of evidence, courts, or lawyers. If it’s not, we have to accept that our standards – innocent until proven guilty, direct confrontation in court, and evidence – are the best we have.
    We need to teach our kids to respect each other, accept the ramifications of their actions and words, to tell the truth, and be ready to defend themselves vigorously. Anything less and the story of Paul and Emma will be repeated over and over and over…

  25. “But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared, inconsiderate of the very legal process you are asking for. Writing an opinion piece should not excuse you from objective analysis.”

    Meantime, in the real world, Mr. Nungesser’s name HAS been cleared, even by a process on the biased side of “legal'”, which was very much tilted against him.

    To ask for an “objective analysis” while taking the side of fantasists who were proven as real, repeat, serial liars falls on the rich side of the spectrum.

      1. As opposed to the other “real” reports who never talked to him at all? You don’t know what Ms. Young and Mr. Nungesser discussed or what other details he provided.

        You’re emotionally tied to believing this woman is a survivor when everyone who looked at both sides has come down the other way. Rape is a serious crime and suggestions that we lessen the burden of proof cheapens that. Real crimes need real punishments and real fact-finding and evidence.

        The kid at Duke lost his job and was under threat of deportation over a shaky allegation disputed in a flawed process. People’s real lives are at stake with these proceedings, and they need to be more rigorous not less.

      2. “An objective reporter would have pressed him for details and facts beyond what he provided.”

        That doesn’t sounds like an objective reporter. It sounds like you are saying a reporter should go around fishing details to fit a narrative that he is a rapist instead of just factually reported what he said. You know, like what Sabrina Rubin Erdley did with Jackie.

  26. Very well researched article. Almost seems as if someone from the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct or some other feminist group talked her into claiming she was raped and now she’s in so deep with this fraud story that she cant get out.

    1. An additional consideration is the performance art with the mattress. I’m out of touch with modern college life, but please! She is now tying her reputation and GPA to an exhibitionistic ploy. I can’t claim to be able to put myself her shoes, but I think that aspect should be part of the analysis.

  27. Sam Smith – you cannot seriously question Ms Young’s qualifications as a journalist with this type of response. A few things you should consider
    1) Yes, it is a well known fact that women in long term relationships often stay with their abusers. It is commonly accepted that this is most often due to fear of isolation, fear for kids or economic dependencies. Two Ivy League students shagging for the third time is a different story
    2) Sexual jokes can be viewed as harassment, no doubt – equating them to rape makes you look like an idiot
    3) I am hereby accusing you of rape. I invite 3 other people to do the same. By your own standards, you should get ready to turn yourself in to the next precinct within the next few hours and confess to your crimes.

    1. 1) Students in the same fraternity would have a hard time launching these accusations. They are brothers and sisters–they are incredibly tight knit communities.
      2) You are willfully misinterpreting my argument.
      3) Please do so. I will win the criminal proceeding and then sue you. If he has a libel case, Mr. Nungesser should sue. He won’t sue because he knows, deep down, that the facts are not on his side. Note that this is exactly what you are saying about Ms. Sulkowicz, that if she has a criminal case she should press charges and that her refusal to do so demonstrates her dishonesty.

      1. Actually, the standards of proof are very different between criminal cases and civil cases. It would be easier for a prosecutor to convict than the accused to win a libel suit.

      2. Sounds good. So he sues and gets an award of $1,000,000. And Ms whatshername’s total wealth is that mattress.

        I can see why no lawyer would touch it for a % of the take and why he won’t spend the money himself.

      3. ” Students in the same fraternity would have a hard time launching these accusations.”

        No, they wouldn’t. Evidence — they haven’t. Two of the “accusers” are from that fraternity,

      4. SS – were you in a fraternity? I was.

        To claim that fraternities and sororities are an “… incredibly tight knit communities.”, displays your ignorance. There were members of my fraternity with whom I had a good friendship. Some I still remain in contact with 30 years after my college graduation. However I had little to no relationship with most of the members who were in my fraternity. Further, I would say a good number of fraternity ‘brothers’ were jerks or losers. I lived in the fraternity house all 4 of my college years.

        To your third point you state, “He won’t sue because he knows, deep down, that the facts are not on his side.” Have you spoken personally to the accused why he won’t sue the accuser? Can you cite a quote of his why he’s not suing his accuser? If not, then you have no basis to make this statement.

      5. “Actually, the standards of proof are very different between criminal cases and civil cases. It would be easier for a prosecutor to convict than the accused to win a libel suit.”

        That’s nonsense. Prosecutors have an incredibly hard time getting convictions on sexual assault and Mr. Nungesser has suffered some clearly quantifiable damages, if what is being said about him is in fact libel and not truthful.

        ” Students in the same fraternity would have a hard time launching these accusations.” No, they wouldn’t. Evidence — they haven’t. Two of the “accusers” are from that fraternity.

        Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. They are making the accusations despite their prior fraternal relationship.

  28. “But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared, inconsiderate of the very legal process you are asking for.”

    But he has been cleared. He has been cleared by the Columbia tribunal that found him not responsible, and the police have determined that there is not enough evidence to file charges. What more do you want? Ms. Sulkowitz has said that she will not put down her mattress until one of them leaves campus, meaning that there is no process sufficient for her that doesn’t result in the outcome she wants.

    1. The investigative report that is available shows that Ms. Sulkowitz lied about what she told campus police to the actual police. She lied in a way that was easy to confirm she was lying. She lied on several occasions too. Plus, her own claims to the campus police show that her victim wanted nothing to do with her. She’s a crazy stalker.

  29. I think that you, sir, Sam Smith are bad at defending Emma Sulkowicz. If you think that being ostracized by your friends, having limited access to places on campus, your name in all newspapers and TV all over the world shown as the name of a rapist, if you think that is a “mild” punishment for someone who has been PROVEN to be NOT GUILTY, then, you sir, are a false accusations apologist. And you know what, false accusations are equally as bad as rape. They both ruin lives. For you to say that Cathy Young shouldn’t have defended an innocent young man, shows that you extremely are biased, and do not understand the importance of Due Process in a civilized society. Emma Sulkowicz has been harassing a young man who has been cleared of any wrongdoing. And if Ms Sulkowicz finds that not true, she is free to pursue the case with our justice system. But she finds the process “draining” and doesn’t want to pursue this further, yet she chooses different venues for her harassment. I wonder Why?

    1. “false accusations are equally as bad as rape.”

      Walk down the street saying that.

      As I discussed in my original comment, the due process that governs normal crimes is flawed when dealing with sexual assault. Please reference above for my fuller discussion of that issue. Also, no need to capitalize the term.

      1. Sam,
        Are you saying we should switch the burden of proof to the accused in sexual assault cases? If that is the case…wow…just, wow.

      2. Your comment

        Your claim that rape is so traumatic as to require

        Your changes to due process

        Your further discussion

        Your gratuitous correction of other’s grammar

        Do you think you are a god, or merely a tenured professor
        correcting/indoctrinating a class full of students ?

      3. with or without furniture on my back?

        False accusations obviously hurt the wrongly accused, but they also hurt legitimate rape victims and helps shield actual rapists. Long term, and across society, the ripple effect from these only increase injustice for all.
        But they are good for the professional grievance and activist class

      4. False accusations are arguably worse. Which would you prefer 1) 15 minutes of non-consensual sex. 2) 15 years in jail with violent thugs (who will likely rape you several times). The loss of all your friends. The inability to proceed with your life in any way. Etc.

      5. Due Process, when dealing with sexual assault is NOT flawed. In America, we demand a burden of proof and evidence an assault took place before we imprison or brand a person a rapist. Unlike other crimes, actual evidence can be scarce in she said/he said cases. When that happens, the credibility of the accuser is especially relevant. It has to be that way to prevent people from being falsely accused or imprisoned, yet the Innocence Project exists because it still happens.

        In my opinion, this is precisely why Feminism seeks to try these cases in the media and in schools, because there is almost no burden of proof, and they can frame the narrative however they want. If anyone dares argue it, like Cathy Young does here, she is publicly excoriated and shamed as a Rape Apologist, when even in the system Feminism set up, the accused is exonerated.

        You can believe anything you like, but facts and reality do not lie. If Mattress Back wanted justice, she had two avenues to pursue, neither of which precluded the other. She chose the one that favored her in every way, yet still lost. To me, that says that there was no rape, and furthermore, based on her agenda after the fact, she fully knows she wasn’t raped. I won’t speculate on her reasons, but I also will not set aside common sense and a lifetime of studying human behavior to find a way to believe her. If the school didn’t believe her, and she won’t subject herself to the fact-finding powers of the courts, there is nothing left to discuss, except her public spectacle of an ‘art project’.

    2. She finds the process of going to the actual authorities draining, but she is willing to drag around a mattress on campus. None of her actions make sense.

  30. I believe it’s Garisto, not Agristo. Also, I’m just not sure there’s any such thing as a “potential red flag”. Wiki indicates a red flag is already generally understood as a warning.

    Apart from that, while I don’t think this is what happened, I can rationalize the text messages of “chill sesh” and “da females” as Emma not wanting to alert Paul as to her real motives and then second, bringing a group of supporters and witnesses with her. But again, in a court of law, she would be asked to name the women she brought and they could be questioned. I don’t think that’s what happened, but I could accept that if she made that claim.

    But I do agree that the totality of the the various conflicts between what she had previously claimed and what she is now claiming cast grave doubt on her rationalizations, her asking us to not take these text messages at face value as indications of her love of Paul and her not having been involved in the rape she later claimed.

  31. As Philip Roth pointed out in GOODBYE COLUMBUS, dating JAPS is generally problematic.

    Look at the havoc they create as both students and faculty with all this rape hysteria in American academia.

    Best to wait until they are married.

  32. Thank you for a cogent and well-thought-out analysis, and for being the “contrarian” position. What is sad here is that there are actual rapes that transpire on a semi-regular basis in many venues, yet the kangaroo-court of higher education has demonstrated that (1) it can’t tell fact from fiction, and (2) they are ill-equipped to be the forum for serious matters such as this one. That is why we have an Article III court system, along with the equivalent state counterparts.

    No one is well-served here – the (liberal) media, by creating a circus ove the vicissitudes of young love coupled with heavy-handed, over-reactive college administrators, have squelched and diminished the “real” cases that are out there.

  33. Ms. Young, did you not expect Mr. Nungesser to have a side of the story? Of course he has a defense strategy and evidence of his own to present. But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared, inconsiderate of the very legal process you are asking for. Writing an opinion piece should not excuse you from objective analysis.

    It does not surprise me that Ms. Sulkowicz would continue to have normal-ish online conversations with her assailant, even less so because he was a member of the same fraternity. That’s usually the nature of sexual assault–lines are blurred and complex relationships are involved. How many women have worked or lived alongside abusers and harassers? If a woman did not immediately cut all contact with and press charges against a husband who beat her, and even had normal conversations with him from time to time, would that invalidate a later accusation of domestic abuse? I think not. What about a woman who grimaces her way through sexual jokes in the workplace? Because she pretended to laugh once, is she a duplicitous slut forevermore?

    You should also more critically examine Nungesser’s experience. Was his life destroyed? As far as I can tell, all that happened was that he was put on restricted access by the university and was ostracized by his friends. That seems like a mild response when he is the target of four sexual assault accusations from four different people. Your arguments about the accusers influencing each other carry no legal weight, by the way. Have you never heard of people getting the courage to come forward?

    You say that you do not want a star chamber, that you want all of these documents released to the media as they would be if the police had been involved. Please. The media is a star chamber. You have personally proven that reporters are poor stewards of fact and truth–and yet you want to worm your way even further into the business of young men and women in order to broadcast it to the world. Even if you think you are god’s gift to journalism, you must concede that other journalists might abuse such access to young lives.

    I hope you stop writing about this story, because you are bad at it. In the future, please start with the facts–all of them–and then analyze and weigh them, and then write about them. The criticism of your reporting thus far is real and valid.

    1. Sam, Read this again:

      “Nonetheless,when someone’s story keeps changing in fairly significant ways, it’s a potential red flag, and dismissing all such inconsistencies with the stock response ‘this is typical of rape survivors’ is an invitation for people to suspend healthy skepticism.”

      Due process means the *accuser* must *prove* her case against the accused. The burden of proof is not on Nungesser. There has been more than enough reasonable doubt, from our laymen’s perspective at least, to question Sulkowicz’s (and the other three’s) claims. Take the blinders off. It’s not just that Nungesser has a defense, it’s that multiple details cited by the accusers are inconsistent or raise doubt.

      1. Thanks for the lecture. Here’s a lawyer from further down in the thread pointing out the basic flaw in your argument:

        OMG. Here we go again : “He is innocent until proven guilty.” We have totally misused the legal presumption of innocence which places a burden IN A TRIAL upon the prosecution to make a prima facie case, after which the burden of proof shifts to the defendant. The party is NOT innocent vel non; the party is either guilty or not at the time of act for which the accusation is made. The rest is just legal processing. Geez
        (From a long-retired lawyer)

        Crazy that watching Law & Order doesn’t actually make you knowledgeable, huh?

    2. It doesn’t surprise you that the victim of a sexual assault would have friendly, flirtatious interactions with her rapist–and later agree to bring other young women around said rapist? That doesn’t even bring up a hint of suspicion in your eyes?

      To liken this to a domestic abuse situation is disingenuous. They weren’t married, living together, or bound together in any meaningful way. They were essentially friends, and that’s all. She was contacting him electronically, not going home to him every night.

      Also, you are forgetting that there have been proceedings–just not held in the criminal justice system. If Sulkowicz truly wanted justice, she would have pressed criminal charges. Instead she went through the campus’s justice system. The campus found him not responsible. That’s not a ‘miscarriage of justice’–it’s just a verdict that didn’t fit Sulkowicz’s desires or expectations. I find the fact that she didn’t press criminal charges telling, in and of itself. Without criminal proceedings the chances of her facing repercussions (for lying, if she was indeed lying) diminished. Also, campus proceedings tend to favor the accuser, even without any evidence.

      I find it absolutely contemptuous that you would dismiss the harm done to this young man. You seem to excuse these charges, even if they were false, simply because you don’t think his pain and suffering matter. It’s absolutely disgusting and a terrible double-standard. If she’s lying–and quite frankly it appears to be the case–then she is responsible for putting him through hell and deserves more than a minor media backlash (while she continues with this publicity stunt/art project–which quite frankly casts other doubts upon her character and this case).

      Finally, it was Sulkowicz and her supporters that made this a war in the media–much like the UVA “rape victim” made her case in the media. It’s idiotic of you to tell people who finally uncover the truth (or in this case publishing details that cast doubt upon the commonly accepted narrative) just because it doesn’t fit with the narrative you originally believed. So many people, just like you, seem to want to end the story just as so many facts begin to surface that don’t support the narrative feminists would have the public believe…

      And that’s what this comes down to: Belief. Modern feminists call upon people to believe victims regardless of facts. They tell us to accept rape-culture and other concepts that can’t be proven (or proven incorrect). They call those who don’t believe rape apologists. It’s concerning that people like you have lost sight of the benefits of REAL JOURNALISM, investigation, and documented facts.

      1. Thanks for a well-written and well-argued reply. Your points are well taken, but we diverge on a few key ones.

        First, I don’t think the accusation was false. It’s really hard to believe that three fraternity brothers and a girlfriend would all falsely accuse this guy.

        We need to have a critical examination of how we deal with sex crimes. The trauma inherent in sexual assault demands a different framework of some kind. Governors, police chiefs, and lawyers have all made statements to this effect. Ms. Sulkowicz is personally trying to prove that a sexual partner of hers spent a few non-consensual minutes in the wrong hole. That is virtually impossible to prove from a forensic perspective, but it very well could have happened and it is certainly a crime.

        Second, I do believe that Mr. Nungesser’s pain and suffering matter. That should be the result of doing wrong. It’s not hard for a young man to go through college without getting accused of rape by four different people. I did it with no such accusations. As long as we demand unrealistic evidential standards in these cases, culprits will probably not face repercussions beyond social scorn, so I’ll take what I can get.

        However, I note that Mr. Nungesser is not suing Ms. Sulkowicz or anything like that, although all of these comments make him out to be a pathetic victim. If that’s what he was, he would sue. Instead, he is taking heat because he did something wrong and he knows it. Even Ms. Young concedes that he has no defense whatsoever to the three other people who have come forward.

        I’m a 24 year old man, a recent college graduate, and no frequenter of Jezebel or xoJane or any of those sites. I’m not really familiar with this site, but it seems like mostly conservative mothers are responding to me. Let me say this to them: false rape allegations are extremely rare on college campuses and in general, most college rapists are serial (as in they would rape, say, 4, people), and sexual assault is commonplace. If your son doesn’t rape or abuse anyone, then he won’t be accused.

        So again, to sum up, because many commenters skipped around and didn’t seem to pick up my whole argument:

        1) A transcript of a chatty conversation means little. Being chatty with one victim doesn’t absolve him of the high suspicion that comes from multiple accusations from four of his closest friends.
        2) We need to re-examine standards of evidence in sexual assault claims, as even legitimate claims will usually have no solid forensic backing. Being cleared by a campus board using those impossible standards does not, to me, absolve someone of possible real guilt.
        3) Being accused of rape is not as damaging as being raped. If he is so damaged, he should start a civil proceeding.

        To all you mothers afraid for your sons, don’t be, unless your son is a rapist.

        Again, I’m a straight and narrow 24 year old male with no ideological leanings on this issue, only forensic and procedural ones.

      2. I guess rape accusations for Feminists is like democracy for Socialists (or recounts for Democrats), a bus you ride and just get off where you want.

    3. So, my idiot sibling, Sam feels the University Sanctioned and US Senator smearing, bullying and libel are totally acceptable, because.. Well because. Not sure why, but because.

      My “brother” “SamSmith” is a sexual predator, because, and thats it. Afterall, that is what i feel, because.

      My idiot brother thinks that he is always right, because. My idiot brother thinks that due process – well, that doesnt matter, because.

      My idiot brother thinks Comparing DV to rape is appropriate, because. Dont think about a long term relation with excalation over time and social/financial/housing/children mechanisms within DV and the high and low tides of abuse/apology factor. Yea, thats totally similar to a elite, entitled college woman with numerous financial resources and no “social /financial /housing /children /escalation” recourse would enter into it, because.

      To my idiot brother, apparently saying “I love you” to a “rapists” is like totally normal, because.

      My idiot brother is actually a predator and a rapist, “because”. /sarc.

      My idiot brother is actually a radical feminists.

      1. What no one is mentioning is that Emma already admitted to raping Paul — at least by the definition of rape used on many college campuses. She said he was drunk when he came over and she proceeded to have sex with him anyway. I would have to go back and read the original article but I think it was the same incident and she was not mentioned as also being drunk. Either way it is problematic for Emma.

        Maybe this is something Cathy Young would want to address in some fashion? I am sure Columbia has a policy on whether someone who is drunk can consent to having intercourse.

    4. “But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared” – His name was cleared in the college tribunal you Moron. You should read the details of a case before commenting. Also a supposed violent rape victim hanging out with her rapist and bring friends to his party is highly suspicious. If you were violently raped and beaten would you invite your rapists over for drinks or go to their party ? ,and bring other people knowing full well they might be sexually assulted by them too ?
      “the nature of sexual assault–lines are blurred “- Alegedly trying to choke a woman to death while anally raping her is a blurred line for you ? What the hell kind of crazy BDSM shit are you into buddy ?

      ” How many women have worked or lived alongside abusers and harassers” – this is a stramman claim.
      A. domestic violence is not the same as violent rape
      B.the victim and alleged perp in this case were not in a intimate long term relationship when the alleged rape happened , therefore it is intellectually dishonest to comapre it to the complexity of a married relationship of two people who are living together.

      ” Your arguments about the accusers influencing each other carry no legal weight” -Neither do any of yours.

      “please start with the facts–all of them–and then analyze and weigh them, and then write about them.” – Thats rich comming from someone who’s entire argument is based on their emotional response and not on a single fact of the case.
      PS. Arguing that being falsely accused of rape is not that bad and men should just suck it up reveals your ignorance and lack of empathy for men.

      “Shill Hard II: Shill Harder “

    5. Your comment reads as an absurdity. No rational person believes your narrative that a woman who carries around a mattress for self-aggrandizement is not a wilting willow who would entertain a cordial relationship with a man she states brutally anally raped her. No one believes a woman who had just days before been brutally anally raped subjects other women to such a threat by bringing two innocents to a sausage fest, including her alleged “rapist.” Get your ideology and seek therapy. You live in a man-hating fantasyland, separate and apart from any reality. Rape activists, gender “scholars”, advocasy researchers and other nutjobs may share your enthusiasm for political discourse divorced from civility, but we, the civilized do not.

      1. There’s nothing to indicate that Ms. Sulkowicz believed Mr. Nungesser was always a hair-trigger away from rape (although his other alleged victims might belief different). The assault she describes was a non-consensual episode in a larger consensual encounter. She obviously did not think that she was throwing her girlfriends into the ogre’s den. The way he raped her was not really a possibility in the context of the dorm room party.

    6. “Ms. Young, did you not expect Mr. Nungesser to have a side of the story?”

      I think she did. That’s why she talked to him, right?

      “But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared, inconsiderate of the very legal process you are asking for.”

      No. He is innocent until proven guilty. That is the legal process she is asking for.

      “That’s usually the nature of sexual assault–lines are blurred and complex relationships are involved.”

      She has demonstrated that this is not usually the nature of sexual assault. It is not usually the nature of sexual assault to have a victim bring women to her rapist’s party. That is very, very strange.

      “If a woman did not immediately cut all contact with and press charges against a husband who beat her, and even had normal conversations with him from time to time, would that invalidate a later accusation of domestic abuse?”

      It wasn’t from time to time and they aren’t married. Absent corroborating evidence of domestic abuse, however, the failure to press charges or to make any effort to sever ties with the husband would indeed be suspicious, especially if there were no kids involved and the couple didn’t live with each other.

      “What about a woman who grimaces her way through sexual jokes in the workplace? Because she pretended to laugh once, is she a duplicitous slut forevermore?”

      Cause that’s exactly the same as forcible rape and sodomy.

      “Was his life destroyed? As far as I can tell, all that happened was that he was put on restricted access by the university and was ostracized by his friends.”

      So all he lost was his education and his friends. Oh, and the nation thinks he’s a rapist. So yeah, his life was destroyed.

      “Your arguments about the accusers influencing each other carry no legal weight, by the way.”

      Well, they would if there were any legal proceedings. As it stands, it just makes them seem suspicious.

      “Please. The media is a star chamber.”

      What the hell does that even mean?

      “You have personally proven that reporters are poor stewards of fact and truth”

      You have offered no concrete evidence of this.

      “and yet you want to worm your way even further into the business of young men and women in order to broadcast it to the world.”

      That’s what the media does, and what it should do. You would really prefer the media NOT report legal proceedings? Do you know what happens in countries where that is the norm?

      ” other journalists might abuse such access to young lives.”

      But secret courts would NEVER do such a thing.

      “In the future, please start with the facts–all of them–and then analyze and weigh them, and then write about them.”

      That’s literally what she did.

      “The criticism of your reporting thus far is real and valid.”

      You didn’t offer any. You gave us a meandering, oblique treatise on why Cathy Young is a stupid pants.

      1. OMG. Here we go again : “He is innocent until proven guilty.” We have totally misused the legal presumption of innocence which places a burden IN A TRIAL upon the prosecution to make a prima facie case, after which the burden of proof shifts to the defendant. The party is NOT innocent vel non; the party is either guilty or not at the time of act for which the accusation is made. The rest is just legal processing. Geez
        (From a long-retired lawyer)

      2. Uh…”ab initio” not vel non. I had a different slant and forgot to shift. “Vel non” was to the accusation that was to be considered, true “or not”.
        Old age is getting to me.

    7. Sam, you write: “you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared.” In fact, he was cleared in the process conducted by Columbia University, even though the standards it uses favor the complainants.

    8. It appalls me that people like the original commenter persist in believing a very sketchy allegation against someone and use specious “reasoning” to wave away any evidence that contradicts that belief.

      Feminists have given us the term, “rape denialism” (i.e. people who they believe refuse to believe in rape allegations no matter what the evidence). I’d like to introduce a term in response “rape trutherism” (i.e. persistently believing in rape allegations no matter how unlikely they are).

    9. Consider 100 pairs of people who are good close friends. Now consider another 100 pairs of people, one of whom raped the other, leaving them shattered and broken on the bed. Now, do you think that there will be equal numbers of people from both groups sending friendly/flirty/joking messages? If you think yes, you need to get checked. If you think no, then you agree with Cathy. She is not saying such messages makes it impossible, but those messages are less common among rape victims.

      And considering that somewhere in the neighborhood of 100% of all previous reporting was Sulkowicz’s side of things (I’m sure you commented on each of those stories asking for all facts and both sides) I don’t think it’s terrible to have an article devoted to his side.

    10. “If your son doesn’t rape or abuse anyone, then he won’t be accused.”

      Oh, that solves everything doesn’t it? Easy. Accusation = guilt. Except in all the cases where people who didn’t rape were still accused. Like, Rolling Stone/University of Virginia. Ring any bells?

      1. While not proven in a court of law, it is generally taken as a matter of fact that Clinton is a serial abuser of women and likely carried out a couple rapes. My guess is if he raped a couple women that we are aware of then he probably engaged multiple times in behavior that would be called rape in instances of which we are unaware.

        I thought about answering “duh” but decided to waste time with a more elaborate answer.

    11. He has been cleared, pal. The university elected not to continue. That’s why she’s wearing a mattress. Try to follow along.

    12. ” as if it means that his name has been cleared, ”

      Isn’t that mattress girl’s complaint ? That it was “cleared” by Columbia ?

    13. @sam smith

      Did you not read Ms. Young’s Daily Beast article? Are you being willfully ignorant in not knowing that even under Columbia’s low standard for adjudicating these kinds of cases, Nungesser was found innocent? Sulkowicz even went to the police; they said there was no evidence. Based on the facts as presented by Ms. Young, which includes a lot of story-changing going on by Sulkowicz, the idea that she and the others were “raped” by Nungesser looks more erroneous? And that Sulkowicz’s continuing melodramatic temper tantrum is pretty close to slander?

      Get a clue.

    14. In your comment, you say, “That’s usually the nature of sexual assault–lines are blurred and complex relationships are involved.”

      This is always hauled out in stories like this. Can you prove it? Because the people I have known who were sexually assaulted did NOT chat amiably with their rapist afterwards, and would never think of doing so. Are you saying they’re outliers?

      (Some of these nonsense assertions need to be challenged once in a while. Sorry if you took it as a micro aggression.)

      1. See, Cathy, this is what you provoke. People who believe in a vast ocean of “nonsense assertions,” when the plain truth is that false allegation rates are extremely low.

        By the way, smart guy, that’s one study that both summarizes every other major study (all but one of which sustain my argument) and also presents a wealth of evidence in my favor. I know you were ready to say “this is just one far-left study…” or whatever, but just try reading once in a while and not assuming you know everything right off the bat.

    15. ” In the future, please start with the facts…”

      Dearie, you wouldn’t recognize a fact if it fell on your head. From the beginning: “…inconsiderate of the very legal process you are asking for. ”

      The whole point of the post is that this is NOT a legal process. It’s an administrative process that is absolutely stacked against the accused.

    16. Sam, you tragic little wannabe white-knight.

      The accuser has admitted that the texts are genuine. The accused was investigated and exonerated, both by the police and by the university’s little kangaroo court. The accuser’s story didn’t hold water. Getting snotty with Cathy Young isn’t going to rescue it.


      1. The texts are indicative of nothing in particular. They were a member of the same fraternity, they chatted from time to time.

        Mr. Nungesser needs to sue or else I don’t mind what Ms. Sulkowicz says with her free speech.

    17. It is absolutely amazing you would write something that seemingly goes out of its way to support the column while trying to refute it. Not only that, but you present yourself as you are trying to present the writer, only on the side of the accuser. I can only hope you are a young person who has yet to develop critical thinking.

    18. Re: “But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared” – the university decided not to take action and Ms. Sulkowicz thinks that an actual report to the police would be too draining, so there really is no venue for Nungesser to clear his name.

    19. “you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared”

      Sam, he HAS been cleared, multiple times, including by the university’s unfair process.

    20. Sam’s comment is the result of a loose collection of jargon, sophistry, non-sequiturs, straw men, juvenile social justice claptrap and received wisdom all bouncing around aimlessly in the fact-free vacuum of his mind.

      Sam, I hope your parents didn’t go too far in debt paying for your social justice wiki-degree.

      Others (slow17motion and kevin s.) have already competently exposed your illogic so all that’s left for me is the pleasure of mockery and telling you that you’re an idiot—while I can—before minimally literate Marxist trollops like you succeed in tossing out due process protections and free speech.

      “But you are reporting on him having a defense as if it means that his name has been cleared, inconsiderate of the very legal process you are asking for.”

      That’s a gem. It’s as if Fredo Corleone came to life and discovered internet comments sections:

      “It ain’t the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!”

    21. Um…his name WAS cleared. The University closed its investigation saying there was not enough evidence against him, and that’s when Sulkowicz began her mattress stunt.

    22. Uh, his name has been cleared by both Columbia and the police. So, what is your point?

      ” even less so because he was a member of the same fraternity.”
      Huh? When I went to school, no fraternities had female members. Does Columbia have coed fraternities now? If someone inflicted great harm on me, I would not be cuddling up to them. Nor, do I think other people would either whether that was some kind of work or other environment.

      “Was his life destroyed? As far as I can tell, all that happened was that he was put on restricted access by the university and was ostracized by his friends. ”

      What? Are you claiming this was some minor inconvenience? Do you think being accused by Sulkowicz every time she left her room (and that was what carrying the mattress was doing and was designed to do) is minor. Do you not think these continuing accusations being piled on Nungesser will not have an effect on his future and his life? He is being continually accused on a constant basis of a gruesome crime that he has been cleared of. The fact that others have decided to also accuse him is meaningless. You seem to think it is dispositive. It is not.

      The media is not a star chamber. You really need to go look up the term. Here is a hint:

      “In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings.”

      The media provides a wide variety of published opinion. Basically, your complaint is the media is not a star chamber. You really want Cathy Young’s opinion banned because it does not fit the narrative you prefer.

      It does not look to me, Sam, that you got anything right except a couple of names.

    23. You seem to have missed the part where Columbia held more than one investigation, which didn’t even include this exculpatory evidence, and cleared Nungesser, meaning any fair minded person should be siding with him not Sulkowicz. And witness collusion is irrelevant? Tell that to any judge you know and let me know how long it takes her to stop laughing.

    24. Sam Smith …. Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.
      Mark Twain

    25. Jimb,
      As a lawyer I suggest you sue your law school because they did a piss poor job training you. The defendant in a criminal trial never has the burden of proof, unless he or she is asserting an affirmative defense such as self defense. The state had the burden of proof to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense isn’t even required to present any evidence at all, if the state fails to meet its burden of proof. You really need to look at a new career.

    26. Ms. Smith, Nungesser was investigated by both police and the university. No charges were pressed by both authorities nor Sulkowicz. His name has always been cleared (judicially at least, not in public opinions however). I will refrain myself from commenting on the rest of your nonsensical arguments except one.
      It is arrogant of you to undermine Nungesser’s quality of life after these defamatory accusations were made public.

    27. In World War I, something called a Stokes gun fired mortars resembling apples with a stick in them, so they were often referred to as Toffee Apples.

      In the movie Rio Bravo in 1959, a guy tosses a hand grenade and says “How do ya like them apples?”

    28. Cathy Young’s reporting on this incident, and on campus rape in general, has been a rare beacon of objectivity and rationality amidst the kind of mean-spirited hostility that your comment displays.

      Clearly, you prefer the rationalizing myths of the “innocent victim” meme and care not a whit for a balanced and fair story.

    29. “Real and valid”? Ok, then. In the same tone you commented, have you heard of people being capable lying? Have you heard of the saying “hell has no fury like a woman scorned”?

      Restricted access and friendship loses only? Really? So you consider being targeted for four alleged sexual assault accusations is just a breeze? His entire reputation is ruined, no matter the final outcome. Any possibility of being hired after college is completely jeopardized. He’s socially branded with a scarlet letter regardless of having been proven not responsible FOUR TIMES IN A ROW (which is a fact, not an opinion).

      Your lecture about objectivity is embarrassing. Next time try not to contradict yourself so obviously, specially if you are clearly incurring in that which you pretend to criticize from your hypocritical high horse, Sammy.

    30. ” normal-ish ”

      Um, saying I love you is not normal…

      Also scary that if Emma felt she was violently raped, she would bring girlfriends to his dorm room a few days later – really – WTF?

    31. “As if it means that his name has already been cleared”… What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? He’s been cleared by the university and the complaint received by the NYPD has been dismissed.

    32. Are u insane? A wife and coworker have to see each other every day…this student not only could have tried to avoid her purported assailant buy she initiated contact AND went to his dorm room AGAIN…save me your politically correct nonsense – use your head.

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