By Sulkowicz’s account, she finally decided to file a complaint within the university system several months later when she heard stories of other sexual assaults by the same man—only to see him exonerated after a shoddy investigation and a hearing at which she was subjected to clueless and insensitive questions.
What’s more, charges brought against the man by two other women also ended up being dismissed.
At the time, he says, he was not particularly alarmed: “I thought initially that maybe they called me in as a witness.” Columbia student Paul Nungesser, accused of rape by Emma Sulkowicz, who began carrying a 50-pound mattress around campus after Columbia cleared Nungesser to symbolize the burden, on the school’s campus in New York, Dec. Nungesser says he is innocent, that the mattress project is an act of bullying, and that the university has now abdicated its own responsibility, letting mob justice overrule its official procedures.
Instead, Paul Nungesser, a full-scholarship student from Germany, found himself at the center of a sexual-assault case that would eventually receive national media coverage and attract the attention of politicians and feminist leaders.
Sulkowicz also rushed Alpha Delta Phi (ADP), a coed fraternity with a literary and intellectual bent, which Nungesser joined a few months later.By the end of his first year in college in spring 2012, says Nungesser, “we were beginning to develop a very close friendship; it was an intimate friendship where we would hug each other and so on, but always platonic.” That platonic friendship included several sleepovers in Sulkowicz’s room—one of which, he says, eventually turned into a make-out session and ended in sex.“The next morning, we had a talk about it and we both felt that it was not really a good idea,” says Nungesser, explaining that they didn’t want to risk their friendship.9, on a morning before an ADP meeting, it was Sulkowicz who initiated the Facebook contact, asking Nungesser if he wanted to “hang out a little bit” before or after the meeting and concluding with: On Oct.3, Sulkowicz’s birthday, Nungesser sent her an effusive greeting; she responded the next morning with, “I love you Paul. ” Nungesser claims that these exchanges represent only a small portion of their friendly communications, which also included numerous text messages.