Mattress Girl Lives On

Cathy Young’s reporting more than two years ago blew huge holes in the story of “mattress girl” Emma Sulkowicz, whose story of rape at Columbia University drew national attention. The media, Young writes, is still buying her story in spite of a recent settlement that all but exonerates her supposed attacker.

When a disciplinary hearing in late 2013 cleared Paul Nungesser of charges that he raped Sulkowicz, she refused to accept the outcome. Her protest—which included carrying a mattress on campus for most of her senior year to represent the “weight” of her victimization—made her the heroine of a new feminist revolution. It also made him the campus pariah after she outed him as her alleged rapist.

While the terms of the settlement are unknown, Columbia issued a statement effectively reaffirming Nungesser’s exoneration. This was an important victory not just for Nungesser and his family, but for those who have argued the war on campus rape, however worthy its goals, has often trampled on the innocent.

In these “she accused him of rape on campus” cases, the guy is guilty until he proves himself innocent.

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