The alleged rapist of a Columbia University student who turned her alleged assault into a performance piece has finally spoken out about the experience that all but “demolished” his reputation, The New York Times reported Monday.
“What was alleged was the most violent rape, and that did not happen,” Paul Nungesser told the Times.
Nungesser, who is from Germany, was accused of sexual assault by three different women in a span of a few days back in 2012 — charges he says were the result of collusion.
One woman accused him of groping her on a staircase during a party. Another claimed Nungesser had abused her emotionally and had forced her to have sex during their brief relationship.
Arguably the most serious accusations, however, came from Emma Sulkowicz, who claimed that Nungesser had hit her, pinned her down, and raped her one night in 2012.
After hearing her case, a Columbia panel found him “not responsible” for the alleged rape. After her request for an appeal was denied, Sulkowicz began carrying around the 50-pound mattress on which the rape allegedly occurred as a symbol of her emotional burden.
Nungesser claims that the mattress project — which he says has caused both his friends and strangers to publicly denounce him as a rapist — is just glorified bullying, and that the university has actively supported it. “There is a member of the faculty that is supervising this,” he said. “This is part of her graduation requirement.”
“Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)” doubles as Sulkowicz’s senior thesis for the visual arts department, and has inspired college students around the country to carry their own mattresses to bring attention to the problem of campus sexual assault.
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