I assume that most of you recall Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who gained national fame for carrying around a mattress to symbolize her burden and struggle after she claimed to have been raped by a fellow student who was later cleared of the charges. Like many such cases, the fact that the accused rapist – Paul Nungesser – was not found to be guilty didn’t make it into the news very much. Having already lost his reputation in the media feeding frenzy, Paul had been laying low for a while. But apparently seeing his accuser turned into a nationally celebrated figure was a bit too much for him and he has released a wealth of information regarding the case to The Daily Beast.
The young woman told every media outlet that would listen that she was left stunned and shattered by the incident and thereafter suffered in silence because she was too ashamed to talk about it. But that silence apparently didn’t include Paul. In the days following the alleged “rape” incident, his “victim” was acting pretty much like anything but a victim. In fact, Paul had saved most of the social media interactions between the two and they paint a very different picture than the horrific one told by Sulkowicz.
On Aug. 29, two days after the alleged rape, Nungesser messaged Sulkowicz on Facebook to say, “Small shindig in our room tonight—bring cool freshmen.” Her response:
Also I feel like we need to have some real time where we can talk about life and thingz
because we still haven’t really had a paul-emma chill sesh since summmmerrrr
On Sept. 9, on a morning before an ADP meeting, it was Sulkowicz who initiated the Facebook contact, asking Nungesser if he wanted to “hang out a little bit” before or after the meeting and concluding with:
whatever I want to see yoyououoyou
respond—I’ll get the message on ma phone
On Oct. 3, Sulkowicz’s birthday, Nungesser sent her an effusive greeting; she responded the next morning with, “I love you Paul. Where are you?!?!?!?!”
That’s only a small portion of the correspondence provided in the article, and I give full credit to the Daily Beast for being willing to publish it. Read the whole thing. But it’s also worth noting that this isn’t devolving into a He Said She Said argument here. TDB seems to have done their due diligence and contacted Sulkowicz about the social media exchanges. She responded saying that she “confirmed that these records were authentic and not redacted in any way.” She also claimed that she would be sending them “annotations” explaining the context but then decided not to do so.
Let’s keep in mind that the media made a celebrity out of this girl. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago – long after Nungesser had been cleared, she was invited to attend the State of the Union with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in addition to numerous other media engagements. Where is Senator Gillibrand now? Does she have anything to add? Or is this another case where you are an evil member of the He Man Woman Haters Club if you even ask a follow-up question, and we should still honor her because the story was fake but accurate?
Nungesser is trying to get his reputation back after it seems abundantly clear that this woman lied about the assault. But that’s not a good media story I suppose, and I doubt anyone will be inviting Paul to the next big shindig in Washington. And the crisis of the campus rape culture marches on.