In September, the country was shocked when Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers freshman, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in NYC after he learned his roommate had live-streamed his gay hookup using a web cam. Yesterday, the rooommate, Dharun Ravi, was indicted by a grand jury on 15 charges, including bias intimidation (i.e., a hate crime) and invasion of privacy, for what prosecutors say was intimidating and bullying behavior towards his gay roommate.
Prosecutors are expected to argue that Tyler Clementi committed suicide because he was cyber-bullied by his roommate, who placed the web cam facing Tyler’s bed and even had announced on Twitter that Clementi was gay. One of Dharun’s friends in the dormitory, Molly Wei, who also watched the gay hookup on the web cam, was not indicted but has been charged with invasion of privacy.A little recap: in August of 2010, Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi, both from New Jersey, learned they would be roommates at Rutgers. At some point in August, presumably after they’d been living together a bit, Dharun allegedly tweeted that Tyler was gay. On September 19, Dharun is accused of setting up a web cam that faced towards Tyler’s bed. He then allegedly went to Molly Wei’s room and turned his laptop on to watch Tyler hooking up with a dude (who has never been publicly identified). According to The New York Times, Dharun tweeted that day, “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
On September 21, Dharun allegedly set up the web cam again, presumably because Tyler was going to have the same guest over again. He also allegedly told his friends where to log on to watch Tyler’s planned hookup. But, prosecutors say, Tyler found the web cam. On September 22, he killed himself by jumping off the GW Bridge. Tragically, Tyler updated his Facebook status to say “jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
In the days after the suicide, Dharun allegedly deleted the rude tweets and text messages on his phone and tried to persuade his friends not to talk to investigators about how he’d been cyber-bullying Tyler. For those actions, he faces charges of tampering with evidence, and witness tampering.
Both Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei withdrew from Rutgers in the fall, as the details of their connection to the suicide were unfolding. Dharun was freed on $25,000 bail.
Last month, Tyler Clementi’s parents released a statement saying they were not seeking “harsh punishment” for the youngsters. However, when the news about the indictment against Dharun broke yesterday, the Clementis released another statement with a little more teeth to it. Via NJ.com:
“The grand jury indictment spells out cold and calculated acts against our son Tyler by his former college roommate. If these facts are true, as they appear to be, then it is important for our criminal justice system to establish clear accountability under the law. We are eager to have the process move forward for justice in this case and to reinforce the standards of acceptable conduct in our society.”
If convicted of the most serious of the 15 charges against him, Dharun Ravi faces five to 10 years in prison.
What do you think about the charges Dharun Ravi is facing regarding Tyler Clementi’s death?