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Columbia Student Accused of Raping Classmate Loses 2nd Suit Against College

By Nicole Levy | March 27, 2017 5:10pm
 Emma Sulkowicz, at a protest with the mattress she intended to carry with her everywhere on campus until her accused rapist, Paul Nungesser, was expelled
Emma Sulkowicz, at a protest with the mattress she intended to carry with her everywhere on campus until her accused rapist, Paul Nungesser, was expelled
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DNAinfo/Emily Frost

NEW YORK CITY — The Columbia University student accused of raping his classmate in a high-profile case that gripped the college has lost his second attempt at suing the school for gender-based discrimination.

A judge dismissed Paul Nungesser's second lawsuit alleging that the university violated his Title IX rights and two state laws in its handling of Emma Sulkowicz's very public, mattress-toting campaign to have him expelled from campus.

In a 46-page opinion filed Friday, Judge Gregory Woods tossed the case "with prejudice," meaning Nungesser is prohibited from filing a third suit on the same claims.

In his second amended complaint filed in April 2016, the German national accused Columbia of indifference to and participation in the "severe, pervasive and objectively offensive" harassment he experienced after a university investigation found him "not responsible" for Sulkowicz's allegations of sexual assault in 2013.

Sulkowicz protested the Ivy League school’s decision by taking her allegations to the press and by carrying a mattress around campus as part of a senior project. 

Nungesser's suit said she "enabled reporters to stalk [him], she defamed him as a 'serial rapist,' and her campaign resulted in public intimidation, isolation on campus and receipt of threats against him." He described himself "male victim of gender-based harassment" at a federally funded university that did nothing to intervene, a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the suit adds. 

Woods, in his opinion, argued that there was no proof Sulkowicz's actions were "motivated by gender" or that she deployed the term "serial rapist" as a gendered slur. As to his claim that harassment deprived him of educational opportunities at Columbia, Woods wrote, "the Court recognizes that Nungesser's senior year at Columbia was neither pleasant nor easy," but the plaintiff's case failed to meet the high bar set by Title IX for evidence.

Nungesser's lawyers will continue to fight on his behalf in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, attorney Andrew Miltenberg said in a statement.

"We have carefully reviewed Judge Woods’ decision, and believe it to be erroneous in a number of critical areas," he said. "From the outset of this case, Judge Woods has been dead set against Paul Nungesser, which is further evidenced by his flawed reasoning in finding that the 101 page, extraordinarily detailed, Second Amended Complaint contains no viable causes of action.

"We are confident that the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will reinstate the case," the attorney said.