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Judge dismisses second lawsuit over Columbia 'mattress protest'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday threw out the second lawsuit filed by a former Columbia University student who had been accused of rape over the school's decision to permit his accuser to carry around a mattress in protest after he was cleared.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods dismissed the latest lawsuit by Paul Nungesser after ruling that he had not shown that the protest by Emma Sulkowicz had damaged his ability to receive an education.

"The Court’s task here is not to weigh in on the social debate regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Indeed, it is not even the Court’s role here to determine the truth," Woods wrote in his 46-page opinion.

Instead, Woods wrote, he had only to determine whether Nungesser had stated a claim for relief that would hold up under law. And he had determined that Nungesser had not.

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Nungesser filed the court action in April 2016, six weeks after Woods in Manhattan threw out an earlier version for similar reasons.

Sulkowicz had accused Nungesser of raping her on campus in August 2012. Nungesser claimed the encounter was consensual and was never charged with a crime. He graduated from the Ivy League school in New York in 2015.

When the university determined he should not be disciplined, Sulkowicz protested the decision by carrying a mattress everywhere she went as part of her senior thesis, drawing international headlines.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Grant McCool)