Accused Columbia Rapist Argues in Lawsuit That ‘Rapist’ Is a Gendered Slur

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Columbia University
Columbia UniversityPhoto: Barry Winiker

Paul Nungesser, the alleged rapist of Columbia graduate and sexual-assault activist Emma Sulkowicz, had his Title IX lawsuit against the university dismissed in March when a U.S. District Court judge decided that “taken to its logical extreme, Nungesser’s position would lead to the conclusion that those who commit, or are accused of committing, sexual assault are a protected class under Title IX.” But the ruling allowed for Nungesser to file an updated complaint — and oh, boy, did he.

The 100-page document filed on Monday reiterates the earlier complaint’s claim that Nungesser was the victim of a smear campaign by Sulkowicz, and that the university’s refusal to intervene counts as a form of sex-based harassment banned under Title IX. But the new complaint goes even further: Not only were Columbia’s actions in the Sulkowicz case a violation of Title IX, the university’s school-wide sexual-assault policy violates Title IX by making the assumption that most people who commit rape are male (an assumption that’s less an assumption than it is fact).

Other arguments Nungesser’s lawyers make in the complaint include:

• In the same way that whore is a gender-based slur against women, rapist is a gender-based slur against men.

• Making false rape accusations is a form of gender-based harassment. (Who determines which accusations are “false” isn’t clear.)

• Columbia applies its free-speech codes differently to men than it does to women in a way that discriminates against men.

“While I personally would like to put this case behind me, I also think this complaint raises some fundamental questions that our society deserves answers to,” Nungesser told Newsweek.