Paul Nungesser says he did not rape fellow Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz, who now carries a mattress around as part of an art project and campaign to get him to leave campus, and he has released Facebook messages calling her account into question.
The story has garnered national attention and Sulkowicz has been hailed as a rape survivor by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who referred to Nungesser as a “rapist” even though Columbia found him “not responsible.”
Sulkowicz has said that during an otherwise consensual sexual encounter in August 2012, Nungesser hit her, choked her and anally raped her as she fought him back. Despite the brutality of the alleged crime, Sulkowicz did not immediately report the attack and continued speaking with Nungesser in the following days, weeks and months.
Facebook messages obtained by the Daily Beast contributor Cathy Young show that two days after Sulkowicz was allegedly beaten and choked, she responded to Nungesser’s party invite by writing “lol yussss.” She followed up that message by telling him: “Also I feel like we need to have some real time where we can talk about life and thingz” and “because we still haven’t really had a paul-emma sesh since summmerrrrr.”
A week later, Sulkowicz invited Nungesser, whom she now refers to as her “rapist,” to hang out. And a month after that, she responded to Nungesser’s birthday message to her by saying: “I love you Paul. Where are you?!?!?!?!”
Six months later, Sulkowicz would accuse Nungesser of previously raping her.
Victims of trauma may react in ways that to an outsider may seem odd or an indication of falsity. This could explain why Sulkowicz continued to be friendly with Nungesser — even inviting him to spend time with her — after the alleged rape.
Sulkowicz' story loses some credibility, however, when she claims Columbia's Office of Gender-Based Misconduct asked if she had "tried talking it out" with Nungesser. A representative from the office directed Young to its policy for students, which states that informal resolutions are never to be recommended.
Nungesser, obviously, denies any such rape occurred and said the entire encounter — as the two previous sexual encounters between the two — was completely mutual. In an e-mail clarification, Young told the Washington Examiner that Nungesser also denied hitting and chocking Sulkowicz.
I suggest you read the entire article. At the very least, it shows how difficult sexual assault accusations are to adjudicate – especially on college campuses. Sulkowicz and Nungesser’s accounts vary widely, and her messages to him following the encounter would be difficult for college administrators to view as trauma.