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Expelled Columbia journalism student accused of rape sues university over 'anti-male' bias

Ben Feibleman is one of at least two male students to sue Columbia University in recent years after fellow students accused them of rape. (Credit: Ethan E. Rocke)
Ben Feibleman is one of at least two male students to sue Columbia University in recent years after fellow students accused them of rape. (Credit: Ethan E. Rocke)

A former Columbia journalism student who was accused of rape is suing the university for expelling him and succumbing to “anti-male” gender bias, according to a new lawsuit.

Ben Feibleman filed the suit against the university on Monday in Manhattan Federal Court. He claims school authorities “grievously mishandled” an October 2016 incident in which a female acquaintance accused him of sexual assault while he was attending the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

According to Feibleman, the unidentified victim — a fellow Columbia student — was actually the aggressor, begging him for sex and then forcing herself on him, the New York Post reported. He said he met the woman at an event, and she struck up an “hours-long flirtation” with him.

He alleges they went up to a water tower atop an apartment building, where they kissed and the woman began to pull Feibleman’s face into her breasts. They made their way to the female student’s room for more kissing, he claimed, but that’s where Feibleman’s consent ended.

The woman began begging him for sex, saying, “Please because I can’t let you go without it,” according to the suit. Feibleman claims she then forcibly tried to perform oral sex on him, despite the fact that he had clearly refused. He even cited the woman’s boyfriend as one reason he didn’t want to fool around with her.

Angered by his rejection, the female student allegedly berated Feibleman for half an hour — and she even bit him, the New York Post reported.

At some point, Feibleman apparently suspected he’d be accused of sexual misconduct, according to the New York Post, so he used his phone to begin taping their encounter in her room. When the woman leveled accusations against him, Feibleman was able to turn over the 30-minute recording to university investigators.

But the evidence was not enough to appease investigators, who also felt that the woman was too drunk to even consent to sex. Columbia is holding Feibleman responsible for sexual assault, expelling him and withholding his degree even though he technically graduated.

More than two years later, Feibleman maintains that the accusations are false.

Ben simply did not want to have sexual intercourse with [her],” the suit says.

The suit goes on to suggest an explanation for Columbia University’s reaction to the situation, too. It says the Ivy League school succumbed to pressure from “anti-male, female protectionists’ gender biases permeating Columbia’s disciplinary process.”

As an example, the suit references the case of Emma Sulkowicz, another Columbia student who accused a classmate, Paul Nungesser, of rape in 2013. Nungesser went on to sue the school twice and lost both times. Sulkowicz became known as “mattress girl” for carrying a mattress around Columbia’s campus — and to her graduation ceremony — in protest of the school’s decision not to discipline Nungesser.

Feibleman’s attorney, Kimberly Lau, provided a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle on the case.

“Columbia University grievously mishandled this case. Columbia discriminated against Mr. Feibleman on the basis of his gender in violation of Title IX. The events of the evening in question and Columbia’s numerous missteps are clearly detailed in our lawsuit. Mr. Feibleman did not violate Columbia’s Gender Based Misconduct policies. In fact, Columbia acknowledged that she begged him for sex, he refused, and no sex occurred. Yet, Columbia continues to withhold his degree, despite the fact that he has met all the requirements for its conferral.”

Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for comment on the case.

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