The parents of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi — who committed suicide after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him and a male lover — have decided not to sue anyone, choosing instead to focus their attention on a foundation named after their son.
Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010. His roommate, Dharun Ravi, was convicted in March of 15 counts of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy in connection with his use of a webcam to spy on Clementi. Ravi, who spent 20 days in jail, is appealing the conviction.
Clementi’s parents, Joseph and Jane Clementi of Ridgewood, N.J., had indicated they would sue the university for failing to take steps to prevent the suicide. They’ve now decided not to sue the school or Ravi, attorney Paul Mainardi said Friday. Rather, the family will put its energy into the Tyler Clementi Foundation, he said.
“They simply decided they didn’t want to file a suit,” Mainardi said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“The bottom line is they went through an obviously difficult period, then incredible media pressure because of the way this story became viral,” he said. The parents have “moved to a place where they are interested in positive, constructive work through the foundation and are not interested in recovering any money.”
The Clementi case became a major focus of celebrities and others fighting against school bullying, which often targets young gays. It also brought attention to cyberbullying and the way in which technological advances can be used to spy on people.
On Sept. 19, 2010, Ravi used a webcam to spy on Clementi, who was kissing a man in a dormitory room at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The image was transmitted from the room Ravi shared with Clementi to another student’s computer in the dorm. Clementi found out about the spying through Twitter and jumped to his death days later.
Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi’s death, but Clementi’s family argued that Ravi’s behavior was a factor in the suicide.
After the suicide, Rutgers changed some of its policies to make gay and lesbian students more comfortable. The Tyler Clementi Foundation has been a co-sponsor of an academic conference at Rutgers on social media.
The Clementis and the university have been talking about more joint programs, but there is no agreement, Mainardi said.
from The Los Angeles Times
Posts Tagged ‘Tyler Clementi’
The parents of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi — who committed suicide after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him and a male lover — have decided not to sue anyone, choosing instead to focus their attention on a foundation named after their son.
The former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate reported to jail Thursday as the victim’s parents rejected his written apology as a “public relations piece” and said the judge missed an opportunity to highlight the seriousness of bias crimes.
Dharun Ravi, 20, checked into the county jail after agreeing to give up his right to remain free while prosecutors appeal his 30-day sentence.
His roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010 by jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge, just days after Ravi used a webcam to see him kissing another man.
Ravi declined the opportunity to speak at his sentencing last week, during which Judge Glenn Berman scolded him for never hearing Ravi apologize. Earlier this week, Ravi issued a statement in which he described his actions as “thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish.”
In their first public comments on the sentencing, Joseph and Jane Clementi issued a statement Thursday in which they rejected Ravi’s apology as insincere.
“As to the so-called ‘apology,’ it was, of course, no apology at all, but a public relations piece produced by Mr. Ravi’s advisers only after Judge Berman scolded Mr. Ravi in open court for his failure to have expressed a word of remorse or apology,” they said in a statement.
“A sincere apology is personal. Many people convicted of crimes address the victims and their families in court. Mr. Ravi was given that opportunity but chose to say nothing. His press release did not mention Tyler or our family, and it included no words of sincere remorse, compassion or responsibility for the pain he caused.”
The Clementis also said they were troubled by the judge’s decision not to impose jail time for the bias crimes for which Ravi was convicted.
Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation on the basis of sexual orientation — an offense widely referred to as a hate crime — and trying to cover his tracks by destroying text messages and tweets and tampering with a witness.
The judge indicated the jail time was directed at the attempted cover-up.
The Clementis said they never sought a harsh punishment but believe the judge should have specifically imposed at least some jail time for the bias crimes and invasion of privacy. Ravi was also ordered placed on three years’ probation and ordered to pay $10,000 toward a program to help victims of hate crimes.
The Clementis said they are concerned that the probation was not consistent with the jury’s unanimous verdicts.
They also said “it missed a valuable opportunity to reinforce the message that our society takes these types of crimes seriously, and that we will act decisively to protect individuals’ privacy and human dignity.”
Ravi reported to the jail in North Brunswick at 1:15 p.m. Thursday, dressed in a T-shirt, khakis and canvas sneakers.
Generally, people sentenced in New Jersey to 30-day jail terms get 10 days off for good behavior.
Even as he serves his time, his lawyers are appealing his conviction.
from The Associated Press
One student is dead from suicide, another who spied on him with a webcam is headed for a short jail term, and the gay community is divided over how the case was handled.
Dharun Ravi had appeared stoic for three hours, but he broke down in tears as his mother sobbed beside him while pleading with the judge to spare her son from prison.
She got what she wanted, up to a point: Judge Glenn Berman on Monday ordered Ravi to spend 30 days in jail for spying with a webcam on his gay Rutgers University roommate, Tyler Clementi, who killed himself days later. Ravi could have received a 10-year term for a crime jurors concluded was motivated by anti-gay bias.
But the sentencing in the packed New Jersey courtroom did anything but settle a case that erupted on Sept. 22, 2010, when Clementi threw himself from the George Washington Bridge.
Rather, it underscored debate over whether Ravi should have faced bias crime charges — normally reserved for violent assault or murder — and outlined divisions among gay advocacy groups over the wisdom of using prosecution to combat anti-gay prejudice.
“I’ve never seen such a division of opinion in gay circles,” said Bill Dobbs, a gay rights activist who sat through Ravi’s trial and sentencing, and who opposed using the bias crime distinction. He called the relatively light sentence “a good solution.”
Dobbs said the charges against Ravi, now 20, began piling up as a result of outrage over Clementi’s suicide, even though Ravi was not charged in connection with the death and nobody could say for certain what motivated Clementi.
“Why were they throwing so many charges at this one guy?” said Dobbs, echoing other gay activists’ worries about a backlash over the harsh prosecution.
But Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality said although the gay rights group had not called for the maximum, it felt Ravi’s punishment was far too light. “This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry,” he said. “This was not a crime without bias.”
The Matthew Shepard Foundation, founded after the 1998 beating death of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, also expressed surprise at the “relative lightness” of the sentence. “It seems clear in light of the jury’s verdict that … bias was a motivating factor,” said Jason Marsden, the foundation’s executive director.
Ravi had secretly pointed a webcam at his freshman roommate’s bed one evening and captured him in an intimate encounter with a man known only as M.B. Initial reports alleged that Ravi had posted the video on the Web, but that turned out to be untrue.
Ravi did try to use the webcam again when Clementi had a second date with M.B. in their room. Ravi said he wanted the camera on only so he could keep an eye on his belongings. But Clementi had gotten wind of the plan and switched off the camera.
Clementi, described as a shy, sensitive violinist who had only recently come out as gay, asked for a new roommate. Before any changes could be made, he hurled himself off the George Washington Bridge, posting one last Facebook status update: “jumping off GW bridge sorry.”
Prosecutors portrayed Ravi as an arrogant, insensitive computer whiz who used his technical skills to cyber-bully Clementi — a portrayal that was repeated again and again in court Monday as Clementi’s mother, father and brother criticized Ravi and appealed for a harsh sentence.
“Why was he so arrogant and so mean-spirited and evil?” said Clementi’s mother, Jane. She accused Ravi of giving her son the cold shoulder from the moment they first met and asked why, if he was homophobic, he didn’t “just request a roommate change?”
If the presentencing statements illuminated the opposite viewpoints of the two families, they also highlighted the similarities of two clans devastated by the loss of a child — one through death, the other through a sordid trial. Both sets of parents struggled to speak through tears, their voices tinged with anger, desperation and heartbreak.
“We are not a homophobic family,” said Ravi’s father, Ravi Pazhani. “Dharun was not raised to hate gays.”
Pazhani paid tribute to Clementi, referring to his talents as a violinist and lamenting his early death. “Rest in peace, Tyler, you will always be in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.
Ravi sat silently and appeared to show no emotion, as he had throughout the four-week trial. That changed when his mother, Sabitha Ravi, broke down in sobs that filled the courtroom as she pleaded for leniency. Ravi wiped tears from his eyes as his mother said he had “suffered enough.”
Acknowledging that his sentence probably would please few, Berman prefaced it with a stern lecture: “I heard this jury say ‘guilty’ 288 times. 24 questions, 12 jurors. That’s the multiplication. And I haven’t heard you apologize once.”
Berman said he did not believe Ravi was motivated by anti-gay hatred. “But I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity,” he said.
He ordered Ravi to report in 10 days to begin serving his time. Ravi must perform 300 hours of community service and pay a $10,000 fine that will go to help victims of bias crimes. He faces three years’ probation and must undergo counseling about cyber-bullying.
Neither side made statements after the sentencing.
Marc R. Poirier, a professor of law at Seton Hall University in New Jersey who specializes in bias crime and gender issues, noted that the case had ushered in a rigorous anti-bullying law in the state and forced institutions to pay more attention to cyber-bullying.
“I believe the judge’s sentence will send a message to kids and (perhaps more importantly) … to their parents about the consequences of behaving the way Ravi did,” he wrote in an email.
Poirier said the Ravi case, like that of George Zimmerman — accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida — “serves to reopen a nationwide conversation about hate crime/bias crime/bias intimidation laws and whether they are useful tools, and if so, for what.”
from The Los Angeles Times
A former Rutgers University student who was found guilty of hate crimes for using a webcam to view his roommate kissing another man has asked a judge to overturn the jury’s conviction.
In a legal filing Tuesday, Dharun Ravi’s lawyers said the jury convicted him in March despite evidence that he was not guilty of invading the privacy or intimidating roommate Tyler Clementi, who killed himself days after the webcam was used.
And on the most disputed and serious charges – bias intimidation – the lawyers say the law was misused. On some of those counts, the jury found that Ravi did not mean to intimidate Clementi or the other man, but that Clementi reasonably believed he did. Jurors said as much both in their findings in court and in comments afterward to journalists. Copies of some news articles were included with the brief to support Ravi’s lawyers’ position.
“To criminalize a defendant for a victim’s mistaken belief about the defendant’s motive would turn the bias intimidation statute into a mockery of itself,” wrote the lawyers, Steven Altman and Philip Nettl. It is standard practice for lawyers to ask for a judge to overturn a conviction after a jury delivers it. In Ravi’s case, the request is for the judge to acquit Ravi entirely – or at least grant him a new trial.
The lawyers said that the jury was wrong on invasion of privacy charges because the snippets video that Ravi and others saw did not show sexual acts or nudity.
Prosecutors had no immediate comment on the court filing. But they’re sure to have more to say in coming weeks as they file papers to recommend a sentence for Ravi.
He could face 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced on May 21. And because he’s a citizen of India, where he was born, Ravi could also be deported eventually because of the conviction.
The case has enflamed passions.
Almost immediately after his suicide in September 2010, Clementi came to be seen as a symbol of the bullying young gays can face. President Barack Obama spoke out about the case and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres made it a key cause of hers.
Some have come to see Ravi as a victim of an overzealous legal system, a man convicted not so much for what he did but what happened afterward. Last month, former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who left office in 2004 after announcing he was gay, wrote an opinion piece in The Star-Ledger newspaper arguing against a prison sentence for him.
While there is much dispute in court and elsewhere about how the law should be applied in the case, there is little disagreement over the facts.
Jurors heard that Clementi and Ravi, both 18-year-old freshmen from well-off New Jersey suburbs who were assigned at random to be roommates, did not speak much.
A few weeks into the school year, Clementi asked Ravi for the room when he was planning to have over a man he’d met online. Jurors heard that Ravi was nervous about the iPad he’d left in their room and wondered what was going on, so he and a friend turned on his webcam and saw seconds of, as Ravi described in a tweet, his roommate “making out with a dude.”
Two nights later, when Clementi asked for privacy again, Ravi obliged. This time, he told friends through text messages, tweets and in-person conversations how they could connect with his webcam to see what happened between Clementi and his guest, who testified at the trial but was only identified by the initials M.B. because he’s considered the victim of a sex crime.
But the webcam was off that night.
By the time of that second rendezvous, Clementi had learned that Ravi had watched him and he initiated a request for a room change.
The next night, Clementi, a violinist, made his way to the George Washington Bridge and jumped to his death, leaving behind a final Facebook status: “jumping off the GW bridge, sorry.”
Jurors found Ravi guilty of all 15 counts he faced, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence and a witness to try to cover up the other crimes.
from The Associated Press
NEW JERSEY – Dharun Ravi’s face is drawn and thin. The stress of the last year and a half has wrung him out. His eyes are perpetually sad, not the eyes of a very bright 20-year-old young man who should have a promising future.
He is sitting on a plush maroon sofa in his parents’ living room, free on bail but still a prisoner in public opinion. He has been convicted of a hate crime for spying on Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after the episode. Ravi was not charged in Clementi’s death, but without the suicide, the case would have never drawn so much public attention.
Now, for the first time, Dharun Ravi explains his side of the story in a two-hour exclusive interview with The Star-Ledger.
I’m not the same person I was two years ago,” he said. “I don’t even recognize the person I was two years ago.”
That person, Ravi admits, was immature. And did some stupid things. And was insensitive to Tyler Clementi’s feelings.
“But I wasn’t biased,” Ravi said. “I didn’t act out of hate and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay.”
And this person is committed to continuing to try and prove he did not commit a bias crime.
“The verdict actually made me feel energized,” he said. “We (his family, friends and attorneys) will keep going.”
In September of 2010, after Clementi committed suicide, it was quickly learned that Ravi spied on Clementi while he had a male guest in their Rutgers’ freshman dorm room. The story exploded on the national conscience as a case of homophobic cyberbullying, and Ravi was cast as the arch-villain.
Last Friday, after a month-long trial in which Ravi did not testify in his own defense, he was convicted of all 15 counts of privacy invasion, investigation tampering and bias intimidation. He faces a 10-year jail term, with sentencing set for May 21. Prior to the trial, he turned down a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail. But he had to admit to charges of bias intimidation.
“I’m never going to regret not taking the plea,” Ravi said emphatically. “If I took the plea, I would have had to testify that I did what I did to intimidate Tyler and that would be a lie. I won’t ever get up there and tell the world I hated Tyler because he was gay, or tell the world I was trying to hurt or intimidate him because it’s not true.”
The Ravi home in Plainsboro is in a typical, modern American suburb. Twenty years ago, the development was all farmland. Today, it is a series of cul-de-sacs named after flowers; not far away is a start-up “downtown” not much older than the development itself.
The Ravi family lives in a brick, center hall Colonial with manicured landscaping and a basketball hoop on the front brick patio. The family has a yellow Labrador Retriever that barks incessantly at visitors, and there are pictures of Dharun and his 10-year-old brother hung through the house.
When the school bus pulls up outside, it lets out a multicultural mix of children.
“My high school (West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North) has all kinds of kids,” said Ravi, dressed in blue jeans and a black pullover. “There were a lot of Indians, Chinese, Korean kids, some Hispanic, white kids. It’s hard to form hate when you grow up around so many different kinds of kids.”
Ravi says he didn’t have much experience with gays in Plainsboro, but met a few at Rutgers.
“One of my friends had a gay roommate and I met a gay kid I liked a lot at orientation. They were cool. It was no big deal. Now there’s a verdict out there that says I hate gays. The jury has decided they know what is going on in my mind; they can tell you what you think.”
Ravi said he decided not to room with one of his friends from high school because he wanted to meet new people, and his only problem with Clementi was his reserved personality.
“Before I went to school I thought my roommate would be my best friend and we would hang out all the time,” he said. “I thought I could expand my circle of friends. But he (Tyler) wasn’t like that. He was very quiet and every conversation we had just hit a dead end.”
During the course of the trial, Ravi’s attorney, Steve Altman, maintained Ravi was “just a kid, doing the stupid stuff kids do,” but that he was also put off by the appearance of Clementi’s guest, a 30-year-old man known only as M.B. that the Rutgers freshman met on a gay dating Internet site.
In today’s interview, with Altman by his side, Ravi agreed Clementi’s sexuality was never the issue.
“If it was a girl who came to the room and she looked as strange as M.B., I would have done the same thing,” he said.
The issue, he says, was M.B.
When Rutgers police first came to his room because Tyler was missing, Ravi said he feared “it had something to do with M.B.”
“I thought it was something sinister, that maybe he got mixed up with the wrong guy,” Ravi said. “I told one of my friends, ‘I wish I recorded (the first incident, on Sept. 19) so I would have an image of the guy (M.B.) to give to the police.”
On the night of the first incident, Ravi’s co-defendant, Molly Wei, testified they only watched the webcam images for scant seconds, then shut it down when they saw the men were kissing. Ravi’s defense has always been that he was worried about his iPad and other stuff in his room when he saw M.B., who looked “shady” to him.
Wei later opened up the camera for a second view, which was seen by about five people. Ravi today said he was not in the room for that second view, in which the men were still kissing but shirtless.
On the second night, Sept. 21, Ravi said he was at dinner when Tyler texted him asking for the room again.
“I thought it was weird he was asking for the room again on a weekday,” Ravi said today. “I didn’t mind because I knew I had (ultimate) Frisbee practice, but I remember thinking, if this is going to be every other day, it’s going to be a problem. But I didn’t want to confront him because it was already difficult to talk to him.”
Ravi says the tweet he sent to friends suggesting they tune into his webcam to see Clementi with M.B. was a joke, but one in which he severely underestimated the effect on Tyler.
“I knew my friends would think it was a joke because they know my sense of humor,” he said. “But eventually I thought it was stupid, so I went back into the room and pointed the camera back at my bed.”
Asked this question, “What were you thinking?” Ravi candidly stated, “I wasn’t.”
“At that point, I got caught up in what I thought was funny, and my own ego.”
Known as a computer whiz among his friends, Ravi admitted he was trying to show off.
“I never really thought about what it would mean to Tyler,” he said. “I know that’s wrong, but that’s the truth.”
Ravi said he felt almost immediate remorse. “I knew it was stupid so I went in and pointed the camera away from the bed.”
(The images were never shown because the computer went dead. Clementi would text friends that he pulled the plug; the defense maintained Ravi put it on “sleep” before the plug was pulled.)
Ravi said his second wave of remorse came when he realized Tyler found out about his prank.
“I didn’t want to upset him,” Ravi said. “I never thought he would find out. I figured I would tell him later and we would laugh about it.”
When Tyler did find out, he asked for a room change, and Ravi said he wanted to talk him out of moving.
“One of the most frustrating parts is that he never got my apology,” Ravi said. “I texted an apology and when he didn’t answer, I e-mailed him. I told him I didn’t want him to feel pressure to have to move and that we could work things out.”
The text was shown in court.
Of course, Ravi said, the greatest remorse came when he found out Tyler was dead.
“I’m very sorry about Tyler,” he said. “I have parents and a little brother, and I can only try to imagine how they feel. But I want the Clementis to know I had no problem with their son. I didn’t hate Tyler and I knew he was okay with me. I wanted to talk to his parents, but I was afraid. I didn’t know what to say.
“At first, I actually thought I could be helpful because as far as I knew, I was the last one to see him alive.”
On that night, Clementi came back to their room, dropped off his backpack, then left.
“The last time I saw him he seemed completely normal,” Ravi said. “We didn’t say much, and then he was gone.”
from The New Jersey Star Ledger
Dharun Ravi Verdict Won’t End Bullying
Dharun Ravi Found Guilty In Tyler Clementi Trail
Dharun Ravi was an immature college kid who invaded his roommate’s privacy. In New Jersey, that makes him a convicted felon who faces up to 10 years in prison. Locking up Ravi ultimately won’t do much to stop bullying or fight homophobia.
His prosecution speaks volumes, however, about America’s rush to use criminal justice to address problems that are better resolved by other means. Every bad act is not a crime. Every kid who does a stupid thing is not a criminal.
As the whole world knows, Ravi secretly videotaped his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having sex with another man. He let some other people watch the video, and he tweeted that Tyler was gay. Clementi then jumped off a bridge to his death.
Let’s be honest. A lot of people want a pound of flesh from Ravi because they blame him for Clementi’s death. Tyler’s reaction was tragic, and it was idiosyncratic. It is possible to deeply mourn Clementi’s death and also to acknowledge that he probably had issues other than Ravi. No judge in the country would have allowed a homicide prosecution, because, legally speaking, Ravi did not cause the death, nor was it reasonably foreseeable. Of the millions of people who are bullied or who suffer invasions of privacy, few kill themselves.
But in the classic fashion of overreaching prosecutors, the New Jersey district attorney found 15 other crimes to charge Ravi with. Legal experts expect that he will get at least a five-year prison sentence and then be deported to India, where he was born but hasn’t lived since he was 2.
For his stupidity, Ravi should be shamed by his fellow students and kicked out of his dorm, but he should not be sent to prison for years and then banished from the United States.
In their hearts the prosecutors must know this, which is why they offered him a plea bargain that included no jail time and a recommendation against deportation. But prosecutors don’t like it when a defendant exercises his constitutional right to go to trial, and after winning their case they are likely to ask for big time.
The prosecution seemed to play on the emotional circumstances of Clementi’s death as much as the actual facts of the case. The most serious charge was that Ravi intended to intimidate Clementi by filming him having sex with another guy. But how can you intend to intimidate someone by filming him when you hide the camera and don’t want the person to know he’s being filmed?
In addition, New Jersey’s hate crime law presents troubling First Amendment issues. If Ravi had been convicted of being motivated to act because someone was fat or a nerd, he’d be looking at five years in prison. Because he commented on Clementi’s sexual orientation, he gets twice as much time. The problem with broad laws like New Jersey’s is that they come too close to punishing people for what they think. Bigotry, including homophobia, is morally condemnable, but in a free country, it should not be a punishable offense.
When I was a freshman at Yale, my roommate constantly played a Patti Smith record called “Rock and Roll Nigger.” I hated the song, but it never occurred to me that I should have called the police on my roommate. Part of the reason Yale paired me, an African-American from Chicago, with my roommate, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, was for us to learn how to work out our differences. We did, and now, 25 years later, we’re still friends. Those kinds of lessons are what college is for, as much as anything you learn in the classroom.
Ravi and Clementi never had that moment, but at the trial, evidence was presented that it might have happened. After Ravi had spied on Clementi, he heard that Clementi wanted a new roommate. Ravi texted him and asked him to reconsider. He said, “I’ve known you were gay and I have no problem with it.” This does not sound like a homophobe — it sounds like a freshman who was taking a step to becoming more mature.
Ravi did not invent homophobia, but he is being scapegoated for it. Bias against gay people is, sadly, embedded in American culture. Until last year people were being kicked out of the military because they were homosexuals. None of the four leading presidential candidates — President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich — thinks that gay people should be allowed to get married. A better way to honor the life of Clementi would be for everyone to get off their high horse about a 20-year-old kid and instead think about how we can promote civil rights in our own lives.
Though a national conversation about civility and respect would have been better, as usual for social problems, we looked to the criminal justice system. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. We are an extraordinarily punitive people.
Clementi died for America’s sins. And now, Ravi faces years in prison for the same reason.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY – A former Rutgers University student convicted in the webcam spying episode that ended in his gay roommate’s suicide could be headed off to prison in a case experts say stands as a tragic lesson for young people about casual cruelties and unintended consequences in the Internet age.
Dharun Ravi was found guilty Friday of all 15 charges against him, including invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation. The jury decided that he not only spied on Tyler Clementi and another man as they were kissing but also singled out Clementi because he was gay.
Ravi, 20, could get up to 10 years in prison by some estimates and could be deported to his native India even though he has lived legally in the U.S. since he was a little boy.
The case stirred a national conversation about anti-gay bullying and teen suicide. It also illustrated the dangers of technology in the hands of people who have grown up with the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
“They don’t feel like they’re spying. It’s just their own iPhone they’re using, their own laptop,” said Annemarie McAvoy, an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School in New York. “Hopefully, parents will use this as an example for their children.”
On the Rutgers campus, student Melvin Ways said: “I think the lesson here is not everything is meant to be publicized to the entire world, especially private matters and things that are personal to people.”
Prosecutors said Ravi set up his webcam in his dorm room and watched Clementi kissing another man on Sept. 19, 2010, then tweeted about it and excitedly tried to catch Clementi in the act again two days later. A half-dozen students were believed to have seen the live video of the kissing; no video was taken in the second instance.
On Sept. 22, Clementi threw himself off the George Washington Bridge after posting one last status update on Facebook: “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”
At a courthouse news conference after the verdict, Clementi’s father, Joe, addressed himself to college students and other young people, saying: “You’re going to meet a lot of people in your life. Some of these people you may not like. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean you have to work against them.”
Ravi shook his head faintly after hearing the verdict. He and his parents left the courthouse without comment, his father’s arm around his shoulders.
His attorney Steven Altman issued a brief statement saying “everyone could rest assured that at the appropriate time an appeal will be filed.”
Ravi’s lawyers had argued at the trial that the college freshman was not motivated by any hostility toward gays and that his actions were just those of an immature “kid.”
In letting the case go to trial, Ravi gambled and may have lost big. Months ago, he and his lawyers rejected a plea bargain that would have spared him from prison, and prosecutors would have even helped him avoid deportation.
The most serious charges – two counts of bias intimidation based on sexual orientation – carry up to 10 years in prison each. But legal experts said the most Ravi would probably get all together at sentencing May 21 would be 10 years. The judge could also give him no prison time at all.
Prosecutors said they would consult with Clementi’s family and the other man in the video – identified as only as M.B. – before recommending a sentence.
Ravi was also convicted of seven counts of covering up his actions by instructing a friend what to tell investigators and deleting tweets and text messages.
He was not charged with causing Clementi’s death. And while the jury was told Clementi had taken his life, prosecutors did not argue directly that the spying led to his suicide.
Clementi’s death was one in a string of suicides by young gays around the country in September 2010. President Barack Obama commented on it, as did talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
New Jersey lawmakers passed an anti-bullying law in the aftermath, and Rutgers changed its housing policies to allow people of the opposite sex to room together in an effort to make gay, bisexual and transgender students feel more comfortable.
“The verdict today demonstrates that the jurors understood that bias crimes do not require physical weapons like a knife in one’s hand,” said Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of the gay rights organization Lambda Legal.
Some of the jurors said that Ravi’s tweets, especially one that “dared” friends to watch the webcast that never happened, were key evidence in convicting him of anti-gay intimidation.
“That post, what it said, struck a chord in all of us,” said Ed Dolan, a finance manager.
Another juror, Kashad Leverett, a security guard, said that Ravi’s videotaped interrogation by police also helped convince jurors of his guilt. “He admitted to it, saying, `I knew it would embarrass him,’” Leverett said.
Ravi and Clementi, both 18-year-old freshmen from comfortable New Jersey suburbs, had been randomly assigned to room together, and Clementi had arrived at college just a few days after coming out to his parents as gay.
A line of students testified they never heard Ravi say anything bad about gays in general or Clementi in particular. But students did say Ravi expressed some concern about sharing a room with a gay man.
On Sept. 19, according to testimony, Clementi asked Ravi to leave their room so that he could have a guest. Later, Ravi posted on Twitter: “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.”
Ravi told police that he watched only seconds of the encounter. His friend Molly Wei testified that she and a few other students also watched the live stream of the men kissing. (Wei was initially charged in the case but cooperated with prosecutors and will be allowed to keep her record clean.)
Two nights later, Clementi asked for the room alone again. This time, Ravi tweeted: “I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.” He also texted a friend about a planned “viewing party” and allegedly went to friends’ rooms to show them how to access the feed.
However, there was no evidence the webcam was turned on that night. Ravi told police he had put his computer to sleep. Prosecutors argued Clementi himself unplugged the computer.
from The Associated Press
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY – After nearly two weeks of testimony, the case that kick-started national conversations about gay youths and Internet privacy is going to a jury that must decide whether Dharun Ravi is a criminal or just a young man who was confused by seeing two men kiss.
Ravi, now 20, is accused of viewing a few seconds of his roommate’s encounter with another man in their dorm room at Rutgers University and telling people about it in text messages, tweets and in person. He could face years in prison if convicted of charges including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime.
Lawyers gave their summations Tuesday in the case, which has gotten enormous attention since the events of September 2010, when the roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
The trial, which included testimony from about 30 witnesses over 12 days in addition to the closing arguments, focused on a few days in the dorm where Ravi and Clementi, both 18-year-olds from well-off New Jersey suburbs, were randomly assigned to be roommates for their first year at Rutgers.
Defense attorney Steven Altman told jurors that Ravi was surprised to turn on his webcam and see his roommate in an intimate situation with another man. He emphasized that there was no recording, no broadcast and no YouTube video of the Sept. 19, 2010, encounter.
And he said Ravi was not acting out of hatred of his roommate or gays in general when he saw the image from his webcam on the computer of another student.
“If there’s hate in Dharun’s heart, if there’s ugliness in Dharun’s heart, where’s there some information and some evidence to support it?” Altman asked jurors.
Ravi tweeted and talked about what he saw, but Altman said he was only doing so because he was young, had never before seen men kissing and did not know what to do. He’d turned on the webcam in the first place, Altman said, because he was worried about what was happening in his room after seeing Clementi’s guest, whom Ravi described as “older” and “sketchy.”
His client, Altman said, was concerned about whether the stranger might take the iPad he’d left in the room.
Julia McClure, a prosecutor for Middlesex County, reminded jurors of testimony from some of Ravi’s high school friends that even before Ravi moved into the dorm, he was concerned about having a gay roommate.
“He was so shocked that within about four minutes, he sent out a tweet, because he was seeking advice?” McClure asked. And, she said, there was evidence that he then told other students about what he’d seen and invited them to a friend’s room where they could see for themselves.
The challenge for jurors could be deciding whether the laws apply to what Ravi is alleged to have done.
He faces 15 charges. Four are invasion of privacy and attempted invasion of privacy charges, where the required proof is that he saw or disseminated images – or attempted to – of private parts or sex acts, or a situation where someone might reasonably expect to see them.
Four charges allege bias intimidation. Ravi can be convicted of intimidation if he’s also found guilty of an underlying invasion-of-privacy charge. Two of those charges are second-degree crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison – the most significant penalties he faces if convicted.
Seven charges accuse him of trying to cover his tracks. Among the allegations: that he deleted and changed Twitter postings and text messages and told another witness what to say.
Clementi’s death was one in a string of suicides by young gays around the country in September 2010 and became probably the best known. President Barack Obama commented on it in an online video, as did talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
New Jersey lawmakers hastened passage of an anti-bullying law because of the case, and Rutgers changed housing policies to allow opposite-sex roommates in an effort to make a more comfortable environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
from The Associated Press
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY – The man who had a gay sexual encounter with a Rutgers University student that a roommate saw via webcam made his first public appearance on Friday, telling jurors that he had noticed the webcam in the dorm room while in a “compromising” position.
The man, identified only as M.B. and named a victim in the case, was one of the last people to communicate with Tyler Clementi, 18, who killed himself on September 22, 2010, after learning his roommate Dharun Ravi secretly watched M.B. and Clementi kissing.
M.B., now 32, testified that after his meeting with Clementi, “I texted him every single day” and court evidence showed that Clementi texted back.
M.B. said he had intended to see the Rutgers University student again but was not sure he felt comfortable meeting him in the dorm.
Ravi, 20, is standing trial on 15 counts of invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering and bias intimidation, which is a hate crime. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
He is not charged in Clementi’s suicide, which has been portrayed as a tragic example of bullying and the toll it often takes on gay teenagers. Prosecutors say Ravi spied on Clementi and intimidated him for being gay. The defense says Ravi behaved childishly but did not commit any crime.
M.B., whose identity has been kept secret to protect his privacy, said he met Clementi via Adam4Adam.com, an online social network site for gay men, in August 2010, just before Clementi was beginning his freshman year at Rutgers.
It was on the second of three dates, all of which took place in the dormitory room, that he noticed the webcam aimed at Clementi’s bed, M. B. testified.
“While we were intimate together on the bed, I glanced over my shoulder and I noticed there was a webcam turned toward the direction of the bed,” he said.
“The only reason it stuck out was being in a compromising position and seeing a camera,” said M.B., who said the men had sex on at least two occasions.
He later added, “There was no thought that someone was looking at me.”
M.B. testified that when he left the dorm a group of about five people watched him and “it seemed kind of unsettling.”
His testimony marked the first time the jury in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Court heard from a witness who spent time with Clementi in the days before he died.
The two planned to see each other again, M.B. said.
“We wanted to see each other every single day. We had a good relationship,” M.B. testified. Later he testified, “I left happy. And he was happy.”
They met only three times, the shortest date about 45 minutes, the longest less than two hours. He never knew Clementi’s last name until he read about his suicide in the newspaper, he said.
Other students who have testified were friends of Ravi’s. A handful of them said they watched Clementi’s encounter via webcam for a few seconds and only saw two men kissing.
While they testified that Ravi used the webcam to view his room, most of them said Ravi did not have a problem with his roommate’s sexuality. One student testified that Ravi was concerned about a stranger in his room and wanted to make sure nothing was taken.
Under orders from Judge Glenn Berman, media cameras focused only on the hands of M.B., who was clean-shaven, with a stocky build and neatly cut black hair. He bore little resemblance to defense attorney Steven Altman’s earlier statement that Clementi’s visitor was “a scruffy, shady-looking, creepy, homeless-looking dude.”
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY- The man prosecutors say was secretly watched via webcam while kissing a Rutgers University freshman in a dorm room could testify as early as Thursday in the privacy-invasion trial of the student’s roommate.
The man, who has been identified only by as M.B., has been mentioned often in the first three days of testimony in the trial of Dharun Ravi, 20. Ravi’s roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010, days after prosecutors say Ravi briefly watched streaming footage of the encounter with M.B.
Little is known about M.B. from court filings, but witnesses have described him as a “sketchy” man around 30 years old.
One student witness got a laugh from the jury when she described him as “not obscenely old;” another said his age – not that he was a man – made his liaison with their dorm-mate “scandalous.”
His identity has been kept secret, and it remained unclear Wednesday how tightly M.B.’s identity would be shielded during his testimony.
Parry Aftab, a lawyer and online privacy expert, said that prosecutors are trying to keep his name and image from being made public because he’s the alleged victim of invasion of privacy, which is considered a sex crime.
She said it’s a point of law that’s untested in New Jersey. “It may or may not be a sex crime,” she said. “The real question is: is that sexual conduct, sexual activity, which triggers the law?”
No one has testified that they saw private parts or sexual acts – only kissing by men who had their pants on.
When the man takes the stand, it could mark the highest-profile testimony in the case, which has drawn national attention as an example of the societal challenges facing young gays and lesbians.
Ravi is not charged in the death of Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River days after the encounter. Charges against Ravi include a hate crime, invasion of privacy and several counts that accuse him of trying to cover his tracks.
In earlier testimony, former Rutgers student Molly Wei said Ravi showed her a live web stream of Clementi, 18, kissing a man in the dorm room the young men shared.
Wei said she invited Ravi, whom she had known since middle school, to her dorm room for a snack a few minutes after 9 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2010. When Ravi tried to go back, she said, Clementi told him that he wanted the cramped dorm room to himself for a few hours. So Ravi returned.
Within a few minutes, she said, he used her computer to view live images from his webcam. It was then, she said, that she saw about two seconds of Clementi and an older man kissing.
She said she agreed to turn the webcam back on at the request of a woman who was among a group dropped by her room.
“It was the exact same image, except that they had taken their tops off,” she said. “As soon as they saw it, I turned it off.”
She said she called Rutgers police a few days later after learning about a Twitter message Ravi posted on Sept. 21, when Clementi requested privacy in the room again.
“Anyone with iChat,” he posted, “I dare you to videochat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”
Wei was initially charged too, but she entered a pretrial intervention program last year that can keep her record clean. One condition of the program is truthful testimony in Ravi’s criminal case.
from The Associated Press
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY – Potential jurors in the trial of a former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on a roommate’s intimate encounter will learn the name of the other man in the video, a detail that has been kept secret since the roommate’s September 2010 suicide.
State Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman also told attorneys at a pretrial conference Friday that he will inform prospective jurors of Tyler Clementi’s death to explain why Clementi won’t be testifying at the trial. Berman scheduled jury selection for Feb. 17, and the trial is expected to begin in early March.
Dharun Ravi is charged with the hate crime of bias intimidation, using a webcam to invade the privacy of the two men and trying to cover up it up afterward. Days after the intimate encounter, the 18-year-old Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His story set off a national conversation about bullying of young gays.
Ravi, dressed in a dark suit with a dark blue shirt and red tie, sat between his two attorneys and didn’t speak during Friday’s 90-minute hearing.
The man in the intimate encounter with Clementi has only been publicly identified by his initials, M.B. Berman ruled in September that his name could be given to Ravi’s defense team.
On Friday, Berman said M.B.’s name would be included on a list of potential witnesses attached to a questionnaire that potential jurors will fill out. Attorneys customarily provide the lists to ensure no juror knows a witness who could be testifying.
Court documents suggest that Ravi and some other Rutgers students glimpsed M.B. briefly in an encounter with Clementi on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi is also accused of setting up his webcam to try to capture them in a second liaison two days later.
To prove the bias intimidation charges, which are the most serious Ravi faces and carry a 10-year maximum prison sentence, prosecutors will have to show that he was motivated by bias against gays when he is said to have recorded the encounter. Ravi already has rejected a plea deal under which he would have served probation, be required to do 600 hours of community service and receive counseling.
“Dharun had no problem with his sexual preference, and it had nothing to do with what occurred or didn’t occur,” Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, said after Friday’s hearing.
Berman said he would tell prospective jurors about Clementi’s death but stress that Ravi is not charged with causing his death. This would avoid the possibility of any jurors finding out during the trial from other sources and having it affect their deliberations, he said.
“My guess is most people know about it, and my fear is if they don’t, they will find out,” he said.
Berman said he would rule before the trial on how much of Ravi’s statement to police would be admitted into evidence. Altman argued Friday that the redactions made by prosecutors removed valuable context and said he wouldn’t object if the whole statement was allowed.
from The Associated Press
NEW JERSEY – Dharun Ravi wants his day in court.
The 19-year-old former Rutgers University student refused today to plead guilty to any of 15 charges accusing him of bias intimidation and using a webcam to remotely spy on his former roommate, Tyler Clementi, in their dorm room last year. Clementi, who later committed suicide, was in an intimate embrace with another man at the time the camera was on, according to authorities.
By opting for a trial, Ravi risks prison time and deportation if he’s convicted. The plea deal had called for probation and included the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office’s offer to help Ravi if immigration authorities moved to deport him.
“Why did he reject the plea?” Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, was asked after the hearing. “He’s innocent. He’s not guilty. That’s why he rejected the plea.”
Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman explained in detail to Ravi, of Plainsboro, what he would face under the plea offer and what he could face if convicted by a jury, particularly if the panel finds him guilty of one or both of the bias-intimidation charges, which carry presumptive state prison sentences.
“If you are convicted of one of the bias charges, the law expects me to impose a prison term,” Berman told Ravi, who was dressed in a dark suit and nodded that he understood.
Ravi could also face deportation if he is convicted because he was born in India. Altman said Ravi has a green card and “is here legally,” but “deportation could be an issue.”
The plea bargain from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office included an offer to cooperate and assist him in avoiding any possible immigration or deportation consequences as a result of his pleading guilty. Immigration authorities treat guilty pleas the same as convictions.
Altman told the judge he has been consulting with immigration lawyers so he would understand how to help his client.
The plea offer from the prosecutor’s office would have resulted in a probationary sentence for Ravi if the judge went along with the state’s recommendation to waive the prison sentence bias-intimidation convictions normally carry.
The state also wanted Ravi to perform 600 hours of community service and receive counseling associated with cyberbullying and alternative lifestyles.
For the first time since the case began, about 20 members of the Indian community in Middlesex and Mercer counties attended a hearing.
“We are here to support the Ravi family,” said friend Anil Kappa.
The trial is set to begin Feb. 21, 2012, and last more than three weeks, according to the judge.
Authorities charge that Ravi used a webcam in the dorm room he shared with Clementi to watch Clementi and his visitor hugging and kissing in September 2010.
Ravi viewed Clementi from another student’s dorm room. That student, Molly Wei, was also charged with invasion of privacy, but she was placed in a probationary program known as pretrial intervention. All charges will be dropped if she successfully completes the program.
Ravi and Wei both withdrew from Rutgers after they were charged following Clementi’s death.
Authorities charge that after viewing Clementi, Ravi used his Twitter account to tell friends he saw the freshman “making out with a dude.”
Ravi also is accused of trying and failing to set up the webcam a second time so others could watch Clementi and the man in an intimate encounter. Clementi, who had learned of Ravi’s actions several days earlier by reading Ravi’s Twitter messages, had pulled the plug on Ravi’s computer, according to court documents.
Clementi committed suicide on Sept. 22, 2010. His death helped start a nationwide dialogue about cyberbullying and gay teen suicide.
Clementi’s parents, Jane and Joseph Clementi, were in the courtroom today, but they did not make a statement. They have started a foundation in their son’s honor to help fight cyberbullying.
from The New Jersey Star-Ledger
Dharun Ravi, 19 is charged with bullying his roommate Tyler Clementi for being gay by loading images of Clementi’s romantic encounter with another man on a friend’s computer.
Clementi killed himself a few days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010.
If convicted of the most serious charges in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court, Ravi could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison.
Under the proposed plea agreement, originally made in May, prosecutors would have sought a three- to five-year prison sentence if Ravi pleaded guilty to six of the 15 charges against him. The charges include bias intimidation and privacy invasion.
Ravi, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and black striped tie, spoke at the hearing on Thursday only to say he understood the plea offering.
His attorneys said he was not interested in taking the deal, and Judge Glenn Berman set a trial date of February 21, 2012.
The judge also ruled that Ravi should be allowed to learn the identity of the other man in the romantic encounter. Ravi’s attorneys have sought that information, saying they need to know in order to defend their client fully.
Prosecutors have not made the man’s identity public, and he is referred to in court documents only as M.B.
In court papers, M.B., who apparently met Clementi online, said he has an “overwhelming” fear that release of his identity will lead to a “total invasion” of his privacy.
Clementi’s suicide has drawn widespread media attention as a tragic example of bullying and gay teenagers killing themselves.
The judge placed tight restrictions on the disclosure of his identity, ordering that M.B.’s name and date of birth be given only to Ravi, his attorney and his attorney’s investigator, who are bound not to disclose these details to anyone else.
“An innocent young man doesn’t want to be involved in this situation but is,” M.B.’s attorney Richard Pompelio said after the hearing.
Prosecutors say Ravi, along with some friends, maliciously spied on Clementi using a webcam attached to his computer in the room they shared and bullied Clementi for being gay.
Ravi’s defense has said his client had no problem with Clementi’s homosexuality, and the webcam images were never put online or stored.
The defense has also suggested there is evidence that Ravi’s actions played an insignificant role in the despair that caused Clementi to kill himself.
TRENTON, NEW JERSEY – “What if I catch him with a dude?” Dharun Ravi wondered in jocular web chat about his new, gay freshman-year roommate at Rutgers University. He pondered a computer program to alert him if Tyler Clementi tried to rape him at night.
In his own musings in those first days of dorm life a year ago, Clementi wrote, “I got an azn,” or Asian, for a roommate. His family is “soo Indian/first gen Americanish,” he wrote.
Those snippets of court documents released in recent weeks paint a picture of a relationship that started out tense even before the two met, before Clementi committed suicide and before they became characters in a drama that would stir reaction from celebrities, lawmakers and even the White House.
Ravi, 19, heads to court Friday for a hearing in which his lawyers will ask a judge to throw out the 15-count indictment accusing him of a hate crime, invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence. Authorities say he used a dorm-room webcam to spy on Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man.
Clementi, 18 when he died, became a worldwide symbol of the consequences of bullying and intimidation after he jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River amid the intrigue in Davidson Residence Hall C on the New Brunswick campus of New Jersey’s flagship university.
The court papers show modern intrigue spelled out in texts and tweets, many jokey, some confessional. Along with computer records are interview transcripts that could become the heart of the evidence if the case goes to trial. The tension between the roommates began before the campus move in date of Aug. 28, 2010.
In an Aug. 22 instant messages to a friend, Ravi disclosed he’d done some searches to learn about his roommate. Ravi made fun of Clementi’s Internet postings about asthma treatments, violins, gardening and Internet security — and his sexual orientation.
In one exchange, Ravi wrote “idc” — short for “I don’t care” — that Clementi was gay. But he chatted repeatedly with friends about it.
Though it appears the roommates never discussed Clementi’s sexual orientation, it was a frequent topic in other conversations held by Clementi, who in those first weeks of college told his family he was gay, attended a meeting of a campus gay-rights group and made arrangements to meet alone with a man.
Clementi noticed that Ravi changed his pants in a closet.
“It’s like the most awkward thing you’ve ever seen,” he wrote to a friend. He also noticed that Ravi’s webcam was pointed toward Clementi’s bed: “I feel like he’s watching me watching him.”
There were more common roommate tensions, too. Clementi, who said he liked to have a lot of time alone, told friends his roommate would party until 5 a.m.
They lived across the hall from Molly Wei, who had known Ravi since middle school. She told investigators in interviews that she had a falling-out with him because he lied so much. But when she saw that they would be living across the hall, she said, she decided to give him a clean start.
Around 9 p.m. Sept. 19, she said, Ravi came to her room. Clementi wanted to have someone over privately.
Wei said people in the dorm saw an unfamiliar older man who looked homeless — Clementi’s guest. Ravi was afraid his iPad would be stolen — and was also curious about what was happening in the room from which he was exiled, Wei said.
During a moment when Clementi and the man were out of the room, he went in, turned on his webcam and set it up so he could view whatever it showed from Wei’s computer, Wei said.
Later, they turned on the video stream. “We saw Tyler and the other guy, like, they were touching each other and, like, I think, kissing,” she told investigators. “And then after, like, two or three seconds when we realized what we were watching, we just turned it off.”
Later that night, Wei said, she briefly turned the video chat back on to show her roommate and some other women from the dorm. She said Clementi and the other man had their shirts off.
Wei chatted with her boyfriend at another college about what she had seen. In a detail previously noted in court papers, Ravi used his Twitter account to tell the world about it: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
According to an email Clementi later sent to a resident assistant, the tweet tipped him off that he had been watched.
The next night, he chatted with a friend that he felt violated when he realized what had happened. “But then when I remembered what actually happened… doesn’t seem soooo bad lol.”
And the night after that, Sept. 21, it happened again. Clementi asked for the room and said he found Ravi’s webcam on and pointed at his bed.
And Ravi, who lives in Plainsboro, took to Twitter again: “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”
Ravi’s defense lawyer, Steven Altman, says that Ravi was joking and had disabled his webcam. But in a message to a friend, Clementi said it was he who turned off the webcam before the man, identified only in court papers as “M.B.”, came over.
Around 3 a.m. Sept. 22, Clementi sent an email to his resident adviser detailing what had happened. It ended: “I feel that my privacy has been violated and I am extremely uncomfortable sharing a room with someone who would act in this wildly inappropriate manner.”
That night, he left a last message on his Facebook page: “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.” His car and wallet were later found on the George Washington Bridge, and his body was discovered days later.
Five minutes after the Facebook posting, Ravi sent Clementi a long text message.
“I turned on my camera and saw you in the corner of the screen and I immediately closed it. I felt uncomfortable and guilty of what happened,” it said. “Obviously I told people what occurred so they could give me advice. Then Tuesday when you requested the room again I wanted to make sure what happened Sunday wouldn’t happen again … I turned my camera away and put my computer to sleep so even if anyone tried it wouldn’t work. I wanted to make amends for Sunday night. I’m sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing but I assure you all my actions were good natured.”
Another said, in part: “I’ve known you were gay and I have no problem with it.”
Prosecutors suggest he composed the message only after seeing the suicide threat Clementi had posted on Facebook. Altman says he was writing the same time as Clementi.
It’s not clear whether Clementi ever saw the messages, but his legacy was quickly felt.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was among the celebrities to champion the anti-bullying cause. Even President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in on the issue, filming videos encouraging bullied teens to hang in there.
New Jersey lawmakers quickly passed a law, a year in the making, to have the nation’s toughest anti-bullying laws in schools, although activists say the state has been too slow to finalize the regulations to go with them. And Rutgers has instituted a policy allowing opposite-sex roommates to provide a comfort zone for gay, lesbian and transgender students.
Wei, charged with two counts of invasion of privacy, is cooperating with authorities and has entered a pretrial intervention program that could result in charges being dropped. Ravi is fighting the 15-count indictment, which includes a bias intimidation charge punishable by as many as 10 years in state prison.
In court Friday in New Brunswick, his lawyers will try to have the indictment dismissed, and to force the state to reveal the identity of M.B.
Prosecutors say that they have given the defense statements from the man — they were not disclosed in the legal filings — and that he is willing to meet with defense lawyers in the presence of prosecutors. But they argue his identity can remain concealed because he is a victim of a sex crime.
from The Associated Press