Tyler Clementi, 18, was a regular freshman who was passionate about playing the violin and was still new to his gay identity. Instead of enjoying college life at Rutgers University, his first semester proved to be a living hell, one he felt he had no way of escaping.
Tyler had a roommate, Dharun Ravi, who had a hard time getting along with him and realized that Tyler liked to keep to himself most of the time. When Tyler informed his roommate that he would be hosting a male guest in their dorm room and asked for some privacy, Dharun went across the hall to his friend, Molly Wei and both of them streamed a video live from Tyler’s room using Dharun’s webcam, they say Tyler kissing another man and Dharun immediately began tweeting about it to friends and other Rutgers students and possibly, the entire world.
On the same night, Tyler sent a request to the school’s administration asking for a single room citing the fact that his roommate had used a webcam to spy on him.
The next day, Tyler made the same notification to Dharun that he would be receiving a male guest, this time Dharun tweeted that he would be live streaming the entire sexual tryst, and invited everyone to watch, but the viewing never occurred.
The next day everyone woke up to the news that Tyler Clementi had jumped off a bridge into the Hudson River, his body was found hours later. His last communication with the world was a Facebook status declaring he was jumping off the bridge and that he was sorry.
Dharun and Molly were both charged with several counts, Molly made a deal to testify against Dharun for her charges to be dropped and later on Dharun was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a New Jersey judge for spying on his Tyler Clementi’s gay tryst.
“I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” Judge Glenn Berman told the court. “He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.”
Ravi, 20, spent his 30-day jail term and was also sentenced to three years probation, ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and attend counselling programs for cyber-bullying and alternative lifestyles.
He must also pay a $10,000 assessment to the probation department in increments of $300 per month beginning Aug. 1. The money will go to victims of bias crimes. The judge recommended that Ravi, who was born in India and is here on a green card, not be deported.
“I heard this jury say, ‘guilty’ 288 times–24 questions, 12 jurors. That’s the multiplication,” Berman said. “I haven’t heard you apologize once.”
Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Tyler Clementi’s date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Tyler Clementi for being gay.