It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:
“Mattress Girl” is the internet nickname for Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz infamously carried around the mattress on which she claims she was raped. Neither the college investigators or police found any evidence supporting her claim. They resoundingly dismissed her complaints. However, that did not stop Sulkowicz from creating an art piece at her school in which she defamed the young man she accused. The school also allowed her to carry around her mattress to every class. She even took it to her graduation.
That is just the beginning of Sulkowicz’s behavior. Newsweek recently interviewed Paul Nungesser, the young man she accused:
For Paul Nungesser, it was yet another reminder of how alone he was on that storied campus, and how hated he was. He and his parents had agonized over whether to attend the ceremony because his classmate Emma Sulkowicz had accused him of raping her, and for more than eight months she had carried an extra-long twin-size mattress around campus, vowing to do so until he was expelled, or fled. Despite this very public shaming, Nungesser had stayed in school and earned his degree.
To understand the full travesty of what happened to Nungesser, one must start from the beginning:
Nungesser’s case was a he-said, she-said, and its details are well-known by now. He and Sulkowicz were friends who had had sex on two occasions before they hooked up again in August 2012, on the first day of their sophomore year. They seemed to remain friendly afterward, but several months later, Sulkowicz filed a report with Columbia, claiming Nungesser had anally raped her that night in August during what had started as consensual sex. She also said he had slapped her, choked her and pinned her down and wouldn’t stop despite her screaming. “He could have strangled me to death,” she told The New York Times.
“That was obviously a huge shock, and a whole world for me broke apart,” Nungesser says of the accusation. He told the school the sex had been consensual. In November 2013, Columbia found that Nungesser was not responsible and denied Sulkowicz’s appeal.
Shortly after Sulkowicz filed her report, two more women came forward with accusations against Nungesser. One said he had groped her and tried to kiss her a year earlier; another said that when she dated Nungesser, she had felt pressured to have sex with him. Nungesser’s accusers have said they each decided to speak up when they learned of the others’ cases. Columbia exonerated Nungesser in all cases. (In one, the school initially found him responsible; after an appeal, a second hearing cleared him. A fourth accuser, a male student, later said Nungesser had sexually assaulted him; again, the school found him not responsible.) “This is the point where all of us say, Well, this is finished, OK,” says Karin, his mother. “Now everything can cool down.”
Or heat up. In December 2013, the New York Post ran a story about the first three claims, referring anonymously to a “jock ‘rapist’… still walking around like a big man on campus because the school dropped the ball.” In January 2014, a student publication detailed the claims against him, with pseudonyms for all involved. Then, in April 2014, Sulkowicz spoke at a press conference with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. A press release quoted Sulkowicz as saying, “My rapist—a serial rapist—still remains on campus, even though three of the women he assaulted reported him…. Every day I live in fear of seeing him.”
A month later, Sulkowicz appeared on the front page of The New York Times and penned an article for Time about the alleged rape. Nungesser’s name soon appeared on fliers and graffiti around campus, along with the words “serial rapist.” Days later, Sulkowicz filed a police report. The district attorney decided not to bring charges, which, Nungesser’s lawyer at the time says, was because the office felt it could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Sulkowicz has said it was because she declined to participate in the DA’s investigation. (The DA declined to comment to Newsweek.) But the report was enough for the Columbia Daily Spectator to publish Nungesser’s name, confirming the identity of Sulkowicz’s long-alleged rapist. “I knew that was the point of no return,” Nungesser says. “I knew life was never going to be the same again.”
At every stage of this Nungesser was cleared of any wrongdoing. In the one instance in which Sulkowicz could speak with police she declined to do so. If ever there were a clear indication that something about her claim was off, that would be it. If one wanted more proof, one need only watch Sulkowicz’s art piece video that seemingly reenacts the alleged rape.
Yet Sulkowicz does not seem to care about any of that. What seems to annoy her is that people are listening to Nungesser’s side of the story. According to Newsweek:
Sulkowicz declined to speak with Newsweek but said by email, “Paul Nungesser’s complaint is filled with lies…. I want to warn you to be conscientious about what you publish as ‘fact’ for I may work with a lawyer to rectify any inaccuracies and misrepresentations.”
So says the woman who made claims that every investigation resoundingly dismissed. Threatening legal action against a news outlet for reporting the other side of the story is incredibly petulant. This is not an issue of inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Newsweek only published Nungesser’s opinion and the minutia of the events available to everyone online. Unfortunately for Sulkowicz, it is true that even the college disciplinary board considered her claims incredible and dismissed them, despite relying a preponderance of the evidence. She only needed to show it was more likely than not that Nungesser raped her, and apparently she could not do that.
At this point, she has little reason to complain. Sulkowicz had the better part of the year to push her version of events to the public. Now we get to hear the other side, and it does not look good for Sulkowicz. It does not just look like she lied. It looks like she manipulated the system all the way up to New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
The Newsweek article highlights the danger of this type of behavior. It takes no effort to exploit the system and tarnish someone’s character. Feminists have altered the policies to such an extent that the accusers can have years to make their claims, but the accused may only have a few days to review them. The accused often cannot bring a lawyer, cannot interview the accusers, cannot review the evidence against him, or speak to witnesses. The accused enters the situation completely blind and usually does not receive much time to mount a defense before the review. Nungesser’s case is unique in that he was essentially “acquitted” by the board. College disciplinary boards are more likely to decide in favor of the accuser, resulting in the accused being expelled.
That may not be something that people like Sulkowicz wants others to hear, however, it needs to be heard. We have a process that is so lopsided that the system practically begs to be exploited. It strips the accused of any semblance of due process, making it nearly impossible for them to mount a successful defense. They are not simply presumed guilty; they are presumed inherently guilty. The mere accusation is proof of their guilt.
This is a preposterous system that should be challenged and dismantled. Threatening legal action against those who dare to show the other side of that system only serves to demonstrate how much that system needs to go.