Court Dismisses Alleged Columbia Rapist’s Title IX Lawsuit

In a March 11, 2016 Opinion and Order, Southern District of New York judge Gregory Woods dismissed the lawsuit filed by Paul Nungesser against Columbia University and others alleging violations of, inter alia, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This case arises from rape allegations made against him by fellow student Emma Sulkowicz.

Specifically, plaintiff “alleges that Columbia, by permitting Sulkowicz’s activism and awarding her academic credit for [her senior thesis project known as] the Mattress Project, violated his rights under Title IX”.

Judge Woods granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

From the Order:

Nungesser’s argument rests on a logical fallacy. He assumes that because the allegations against him concerned a sexual act that everything that follows from it is ‘sex-based’ within the meaning of Title IX. He is wrong. 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. The statute does not permit that result.

Title IX prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex.” The word sex has two distinct meanings [according to Black’s Law Dictionary]: “(1) The sum of the peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish a male from a female organism; (2) Sexual intercourse.” Anti-discrimination laws, such as … Title IX, are concerned with the first definition – the gender status conferred by a particular set of characteristics. Implicit in Nungesser’s claim is the belief that sex-based discrimination, for the purposes of Title IX, means “based on the act of sex” rather than “gender.” AS both the case law and logic show, this cannot be correct.

Hat tip Gothamist.

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