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Judge dismissed Columbia student’s lawsuit days before ‘Mattress Girl’ suit

Paul Nungesser’s quest to punish Columbia University for how it treated him in the “Mattress Girl” saga may face an uphill battle in his chosen legal venue.

Just a few days before the student accused (and exonerated) of sexual assault against Emma Sulkowicz filed his lawsuit against the school, an anonymous student’s lawsuit against Columbia for actually finding him a rapist was dismissed in the same federal court in New York.

Ashe Schow at the Washington Examiner has the story: John Doe claims Jane didn’t appear to be “under the influence” and she herself suggested they have sex in her “suite bathroom,” even retrieving a condom before they started.

He recited a litany of complaints about the school’s apparent attempts to marginalize him – many with eerie parallels to Nungesser’s lawsuit – even as the investigation started.

The Title IX investigator in charge “seemed to speak to him as if she were trying to get a confession,” Schow says, and she “inaccurately and inadequately” recorded his side of the story. Doe argued he had been discriminated against on account of his gender.

The judge who threw out the complaint was “strongly endorsed” in his confirmation hearing by none other than Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sulkowicz’s most powerful advocate, as Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson tweeted. (Nungesser’s suit is being heard by a different judge, though.)

Schow also notes that Judge Jesse Furman was appointed by President “It’s On Us” Barack Obama and has a brother who is an economic adviser to Obama.

The judge “ignored other claims in the lawsuit,” focusing only on gender discrimination:

Furman concluded that despite the Title IX investigator’s role as a campus administrator tasked with prosecuting sexual assault and her background at a women’s resource center, combined with her “discretion” to ignore John’s side of the story, John didn’t provide evidence of gender discrimination.

“[I]n order to establish a claim of discrimination under Title IX, a plaintiff must ultimately show that the defendant discriminated against him or her because of sex; that the discrimination was intentional; and that the discrimination was a ‘substantial’ or ‘motivating factor’ for the defendant’s actions,” Furman wrote.

The allegation that Doe’s accuser got “sensitivity” and a full explanation of the process from the investigator, while Doe got “effectively cross-examined” and left in the dark, “wasn’t good enough for Furman,”

who noted that the Title IX investigator was just an investigator and not the one who decided John’s fate. Of course, it was her investigation that provided the evidence for John’s trial, so she had a tremendous amount of influence on the outcome.

Read the story.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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