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Campus Due Process False Allegations Press Release Sexual Assault

South Carolina Jury Awards $5.3 Million to Wrongfully Accused Clemson U. Student on Defamation and Civil Conspiracy Claims

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


South Carolina Jury Awards $5.3 Million to Wrongfully Accused Clemson U. Student on Defamation and Civil Conspiracy Claims

WASHINGTON / April 5, 2022 – Seven appellate and 42 trial court decisions document the widespread problem of biased campus investigations in Title IX cases (1).  Last week, a South Carolina jury awarded $5.3 million to a wrongfully accused Clemson University student on defamation and civil conspiracy claims. The decision is believed to represent the largest amount ever awarded to a student falsely accused of sexual misconduct.

The events revolved around a Clemson student named Erin Wingo, her boyfriend Colin Gahagan, and romantic interest Andrew Pampu (2).

Beginning in September 2015, Wingo initiated a sexual encounter with Pampu. At an October 24 birthday party, Wingo reportedly said, “if you don’t kiss me now, you won’t have sex with me tonight.”

The two later left the party. According to multiple witnesses, she walked unassisted, was able to engage in a coherent conversation, and didn’t slur her words. Arriving at a secluded spot, Wingo began to remove her clothes. In his lawsuit, Pampu noted that he repeatedly asked for Wingo’s consent, even though she was the person initiating the contact.

The next morning, Wingo sent Pampu a text message pleading with him to not tell her boyfriend Gahagan of the encounter, making no mention of any sexual misconduct.

On November 11, Wingo filed a Title IX complaint with Clemson University alleging nonconsensual sexual assault, asserting that she had no recollection of the encounter as a result of being intoxicated. Violating campus confidentiality policies, she began to tell her circle of friends that Pampu was a “rapist.”

Campus officials opened their investigation of the case, in the process making a series of important errors:

1. Ignored the testimony of multiple eye-witnesses who did not view Wingo’s consumption of alcohol as excessive. The witnesses included the dormitory Resident Assistant who saw Wingo shortly after the sexual encounter.

  1. Disregarded Wingo’s morning-after text message to Pampu.
  2. Failed to account for the fact that Wingo informed her friends of the sexual encounter, but made no mention of it being nonconsensual.

Based on the flawed investigative report, campus adjudicators found Pampu responsible for sexual misconduct and suspended him for one semester. Upon appeal, the sanction was increased by an additional 12 months.

Afterwards, boyfriend Gahagan sent a startling text message to accused student Pampu: “You’re innocent. 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.”

Pampu thereupon filed a federal lawsuit against Clemson University, resulting in the institution removing all mention of the Title IX disciplinary finding from his transcript, and making a financial payment to Pampu.

Pampu then filed a lawsuit in South Carolina state court, alleging defamation and civil conspiracy against Wingo, Wingo’s father, and Gahagan. During the week-long trial, five eye-witnesses testified they did not observe Wingo to be too drunk to consent on the night of the encounter. The jury also considered evidence showing how the defendants conspired to get Pampu removed from Clemson University and from his fraternity.

On March 25, 2022, the jury announced a $5.3 million award. Pampu’s attorney, Kimberly Lau (4), later commented, “The truth, quite literally, prevailed here.”


  3. Andrew Pampu v. Erin Wingo, Dave Wingo and Colin J. Gahagan. Case No. 2017CP3900709 (Pickens County, South Carolina).