It’s recently come to light that Nev Schulman of the documentary-turned-reality show “Catfish” was expelled from Sarah Lawrence College for punching a female student in 2006. Schulman actually shares his side of the story in his new book, In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age, which was released exactly a week before he took to Twitter yesterday to speak out against domestic violence in the aftermath of Ray Rice’s dismissal from the NFL. (Coincidence? Some think not)
In In Real Life, Schulman describes a night at a dance called the Sleaze Ball (“a night of debauchery, drugs and girls dressed primarily in lingerie”) during which, by his account, he was provoked into hitting a female student. Schulman, who was a junior at the time, had been taking pictures of the event when he got into an altercation that’s fueled rumors for years. In the book, he recounts:
While I was photographing, an individual who didn’t like that I was taking pictures attempted to tackle me and smash my camera on the ground. Since the camera was attached to a strap around my neck, I found myself in a very unpleasant situation, much like a dog with a choke collar. In an effort to free myself, I punched the person and ran off; when I returned minutes later, I discovered that the short, stocky, crew-cut-styled individual I’d fought with was a woman – a fact that I hadn’t been aware of in the heat of the moment. The next thing I knew, I’d been arrested….The case was dismissed almost immediately, but Sarah Lawrence took to the opportunity to toss me out once and for all. I never even finished my junior year.
It’s hard not to read that total avoidance of responsibility and wonder whether something is missing from the story. Apparently, I’m not alone in getting that vibe, and a source who was there that night told Page Six:
“Nev stuck his camera in the face of two girls kissing and was sort of taking a picture and she shoved the camera away. He was very angry about this and he just decks her … There’s Nev’s version, which to be honest, I think is bullshit … He fucking hit her. He sort of winded up and boom.”
The woman Schulman punched (who asked to remain anonymous) spoke to NYMag.com’s Jessica Roy about what really happened, and it isn’t pretty:
To be quite clear, Schulman’s account of the events of that night is as suspect as all his other endeavors. I attended the dance he mentions and saw that he was taking pictures of queer couples dancing and kissing without their permission. I talked to the Student Affairs liaison at the event, who I knew from my work study job, but nothing was done about it. I confronted him, and asked him to stop taking pictures. I didn’t tackle him and I certainly didn’t choke him with his camera strap. I tapped his shoulder and he turned and hit me out of nowhere, I went down and he held me in a head lock and repeatedly punched me while I tried to get free. The impact broke my glasses and the rest of the night was a blur. I got off the floor, talked to police, then went home to sleep. When I woke up the next day, my face was bruised, I was hurt, and a friend urged me to go to the hospital, which I did.
From the hospital, I was directed to legal services and received legal advice. I was advised not to press charges because it would be a difficult case to win, as I didn’t have any broken bones and it would be his word against mine. I also felt intimidated because his lawyer had been waiting for me in the parking lot after my legal meeting. I didn’t talk to him but it was clear that Nev’s family had the means to drag me through a lengthy court case. As an LBGT finical aid student I didn’t think the chance of getting justice looked good.