Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Ashe Schow.
The three defendants who were ordered to pay $5.3 million after falsely accusing a male Clemson University student of sexual assault are appealing the verdict.
Late last month, a jury awarded Andrew Pampu $5.3 million in damages following his defamation lawsuit against Erin Wingo, her father David, and her ex-boyfriend Colin Gahagan. Greenville News reported Tuesday that Erin was ordered to pay $700,000 in actual damages and $450,000 in punitive damages, while her father was ordered to pay $230,000 in damages and Gahagan was ordered to pay $700,000 in actual damages and $220,000 in punitive damages for defamation. Erin and Gahagan were also ordered to pay damages for civil conspiracy, with Erin ordered to pay $2 million in actual damages and Gahagan ordered to pay $1 million. The three have appealed the ruling.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Erin Wingo pursued Pampu for more than a month before propositioning him at his birthday party on October 24, 2015.
Prior to arriving at the party, Wingo drank alcohol, later claiming she "consumed an implausible 9 shots,"
according to Pampu's lawsuit. She reportedly took that many shots but was able to walk to the off-campus fraternity house without issues. During this time, Wingo also apparently told multiple friends that she wanted to give Pampu a birthday kiss.
Wingo found her then on-again, off-again boyfriend Gahagan at the party but he dismissed her, telling her to "find someone else"
and "go have a good time,"
according to the lawsuit. Wingo then sought out Pampu, even asking people at the party where he was. When Wingo finally found Pampu, she gave him a kiss on the lips in front of witnesses. Wingo also reportedly told Pampu that "if you don't kiss me now, you won't have sex with me tonight."
Pampu's inhibitions were lowered due to the alcohol he consumed, and said in his lawsuit that he usually avoids public displays of affection, but gave in to Wingo's advances that night. The two eventually left the party to find a private place for their sexual encounter. As Pampu said in his lawsuit, Wingo walked unassisted and showed no signs of intoxication. She didn't stumble, or slur her words, and was able to hold an intelligible conversation with Pampu.
The two found a secluded area near a shed and the encounter escalated, with Wingo removing her own clothes, according to Pampu's lawsuit. Pampu thought that Wingo was only going to provide him with oral sex so he asked why she was removing her pants, to which she reportedly responded "so we can have sex."
Pampu said in his lawsuit that he repeatedly asked for Wingo's consent even though she was initiating all the contact. His lawsuit stated that Wingo kept saying she knew what she was doing and consenting "both verbally and non-verbally."
On the way back to the party, Wingo reportedly complained to Pampu about past boyfriends, including Gahagan. Back at the house, when Wingo met up with her friends again, she started to cry and asked them why Gahagan didn't want to be with her. She also texted him. When Wingo returned to her dorm, she couldn't find her key and remembered she might have left it with Pampu (an important note because she would later say she didn't remember anything that night). At the time, the resident assistant (RA) provided a temporary key to let Wingo and her friends into her room. At that time, the RA did note any concerns regarding Wingo's level of intoxication, later telling campus investigators that Wingo didn't slur her words but was crying about Gahagan. At the time, Wingo didn't mention anything about being sexually assaulted. Even though the RA was sober at the time this occurred, Clemson would later give Wingo's "drunk"
claims more credibility.
Before falling asleep, Wingo "exchanged numerous hostile text messages"
with Gahagan, which she later deleted before eventually retrieving.
The next morning, Wingo sent Pampu a text message at 10:45 a.m. pleading with him to not tell Gahagan about "what happened."
Her text made no mention of sexual assault and was focused on making sure Gahagan didn't find out Wingo had sex with Pampu. Later, after accusing Pampu of sexual assault, Wingo would tell campus investigators that she woke up at 11 a.m. to hide the fact that she sent the text.
When Wingo accused Pampu of sexual assault, she left out the fact that she texted Pampu the morning after their encounter to ask him not to tell Gahagan and to see if he had her key. Instead, she told investigators that she didn't remember anything that night and thus could not have consented. Pampu showed the text messages to campus investigators, who ignored them.
When Gahagan found out Wingo had slept with Pampu, he told her that if she didn't remember the night, that meant it was rape. The two then launched a campaign to get Pampu punished, which they achieved when Pampu was suspended by Clemson.
Months after Pampu was suspended, in January 2017, Gahagan sent him a text message admitting that he had helped Wingo make a false allegation against him.
Gahagan wrote. "I lied in that hearing. Erin wanted to have sex that night. Get your brothers away from me and never touch your life again and I'll come through with the truth that she lied. I deleted the texts from that night prove she was f****** crazy. You're innocent. Just pull your f****** boys off me and never touch me again. It's sad that you were like a brother to me and this happened[.] You're innocent. Send this to your lawyer. Just don't call me into the hearing and leave me alone. You're welcome. That's all I ask. You're innocent bud."
On March 25, 2022, more than six years after Wingo's false allegations, a unanimous jury verdict resulted in a $5.3 million award for Pampu. A week-long trial regarding Pampu's defamation and civil conspiracy claims against Wingo, Gahagan, and her father included 10 witnesses that testified that Wingo was not too drunk to consent on the night of the encounter, along with evidence showing exactly how the defendants conspired to falsely accuse Pampu.
"The jury verdict represents more than an exoneration for my client who has endured reputational harm, educational barriers, and the deprivation of hard-earned career opportunities due to defendants' defamatory statements,"
Pampu's attorney, Kimberly Lau, said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire. "The jury sent a message to others that our society does not condone spreading harmful lies about someone else to ruin someone's reputation and deprive him of future opportunities. Not only does this kind of behavior cause irreparable damage to the wrongfully accused, it represents a setback for true rape victims to come forward and be believed in the future."
Pampu also provided a statement:
When I received the verdict, I was overwhelmed with emotion and incredibly relieved. For seven long years, I carried a burden of accountability that was not mine to bear. Consequently, my family battled through the process with me every step of the way. By the Grace of God and with the support of my loving family and counsel, I was somehow able to persevere throughout the adversity and fight for the truth. I feel incredibly thankful for all members of the jury in Pickens, South Carolina who chose to end this nightmare for me. I hope that the favorable verdict gives hope to many other young men who are in a position similar to mine.
Prior to this verdict, Lau finalized a settlement for Pampu in 2019 with Clemson University over the school's alleged Title IX and due process violations involved in their investigation into Wingo's allegations. The details of that settlement were not made public, but Pampu received a monetary sum and had the disciplinary notation removed from his official transcript.
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