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22 Feb 2012

US student charged in gay roommate’s suicide case

Dharun Ravi, accused of secretly watched his gay roommate Tyler Clementi who later committed suicide, faces 10 years in prison if convicted of multiple counts of invasion of privacy, bias, intimidation and hindering prosecutors.

Dharun Ravi, the roommate of Tyler Clementi, who tragically jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on Sep 22, 2010 just three days after being secretly watched on a webcam being intimate with another man his dorm room, will finally stand trial for multiple counts of invasion of privacy, bias, intimidation and hindering prosecutors. If convicted on all counts, Dahrun faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation.

Tyler Clementi (left), Dharun Ravi

The 18-year-old's death and a series of suicides by gay teenagers last year sparked a national conversation about the impact of bullying of young gays in the US.

According to an ABC report, the trial is expected to be broadcast live across the country and as far away as India, where Dharun was born.

Prosecutors say 19-year-old Dharun, who grew up in New Jersey, is a homophobe who used a laptop camera to spy on his roommate while the latter was being intimate with man in their room at Rutgers University in New Jersey on Sep 19, 2010.

He tried again two days later and allegedly invited others to watch the webcam footage, as well as messaging friends about what he'd seen.

Initially, another Rutgers student, Molly Wei was also charged in the case but she entered a plea-trial intervention program last year that allows her to avoid jail time and emerge without a criminal record if she meets a list of conditions for three years. She also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Dharun.

Dharun has pleaded not guilty and refused a plea deal, insisting that he intended no harm in what his defence says was simply a bad-taste prank.

Although the court of public opinion quickly condemned Dharun in the immediate aftermath of Clementi's death, revelations since the tragedy have shown that the relationship between Dharun and Clementi was more nuanced than had been initially reported or portrayed in the media.

In an extremely in-depth profile about the two roommates in the New Yorker published on Feb 6, writer Ian Parker documented online communications between the pair as well as exchanges between Dharun and his friends about Clementi even before the pair moved into their dormitory room. When they found out they’d be roommates at Rutgers, Dahrun and Clementi separately checked each other out online.

Dharun didn't appear to have a problem with his roommate being gay and wrote to a friend about Clementi, “FUCK MY LIFE / He’s gay,” but continued, “I’m just like LOL / Maybe I’m still a little buzzed.”

The article also suggests that Dharun who is from a wealthy background and drove a BMW in high school was more classist than homophobic. The article read: "Once Ravi understood that he would be living with Clementi, he felt that he knew these essential facts: his roommate was gay, profoundly uncool, and not well off. If the first attribute presented both a complication and a happy chance to gossip, the second and third were perceived as failings. 'I was fucking hoping for someone with a gmail but no,' Ravi wrote to Tam [Jason Tam is Dharun's high-school friend]. Clementi’s Yahoo e-mail address symbolized a grim, dorky world, half seen, of fish tanks and violins. Ravi’s IMs about Tyler’s presumed poverty were far more blunt than those about sexual orientation. At one point during his exchanges with Tam that weekend, Ravi wrote, 'Dude I hate poor people.'"

It also noted that Clementi had come out to his parents shortly before college began. He wrote to a friend that his father had accepted the news, and “Its a good thing dad is ok w/it or I would be in serious trouble / mom has basically completely rejected me.”

The trial is expected to last four weeks.

United States

Reader's Comments

1. 2012-02-22 18:39  
Good he deserves a life sentence since a life was lost as a result of his invasion of privacy.
2. 2012-02-22 20:39  
I hope there is justice in this case. It all reminds me of that Indian professor who was set up by colleagues and a film crew, and subsequently committed suicide. No justice in that case though. Bobochan88 do you really have to display your dick in the comments column? So uncool.
3. 2012-02-22 21:28  
This case did spark a media interest in teenage suicides which let's face it didn't last as it didn't make good copy in the US.

Ravi's defence is that it was a 'bad taste prank'. That is utter rubbish, he knew what he was doing and should face up to the consequences.

4. 2012-02-23 00:13  
Ravi is dis likable. What an arrogant and cold person. He probably felt he was justified as he was so much better than his roommate.
5. 2012-02-23 00:15  
Bad taste prank? Well, a bad taste prank that violates laws is also called a crime!

Side note to Tim1975 and bobochan - one thing I like about Fridae (and a court of competing Asian site) is how few people use dick shots as their profile photos.
6. 2012-02-23 00:16  
I don't know if there's any legal culpability here, but yeah, I agree, #4, this Ravi guy comes off as a real prick. Arrogant and entitled.
7. 2012-02-23 02:39  
Seems Ravi will enjoy living among POOR people, since there are quite a few in prison. Seems like a a blessing more than a curse.

Thanks Sailor #8 for your comment... If the best and first thing we have to offer the world is our genetalia, then maybe the world should think of us as nothing but dickheads...

8. 2012-02-23 04:01  
Ten years, if convincted, if a very light sentence considering the possibility of parole after five years.
Maybe some guys in prison will do him well !!!
9. 2012-02-23 06:19  
All I can say is deport him. And deport him and deport him.
10. 2012-02-23 06:38  
To Tim 1975's comment #2 above:
1/this is a gay website dude
2/better than hiding behind a blank image as you have done
3/ if I took the time to respond with a dick less picture once I changed it back to a picture of any sorts it would appear next to the comment.
4/if dick offends you suggest you leave Fridae.

11. 2012-02-23 06:47  
He certainly deserves a heavy sentence, and will get it. But the fault is not solely his, his upbring is at fault too for allowing him to feel so empowered in his crap. In any case, the worst sentence has already been delivered: he is a natural born assh*** and will remain as such for the rest of his life. He will have the chance to continue being one in prison, and his mates will fully enjoy it.
12. 2012-02-23 09:01  

I for one take no offence whatsoever at the sight of your dick. Display away.

However, I don't think life would be appropriate for spoiled Mr. Ravi. A decade should do for being an arrogant insensitive little douche. Understanding fully how delicate young gays are during the coming out process, Mr. Clementi had a choice on that bridge. He could have man'd up and faced Ravi down, or he could let the haters win. He chose incorrectly so there is some culpability on his part.


It's just a dick, not like it was broadcast over a webcam against bobochan88's will thus subjecting him to the ridicule of his friends and colleagues leading to acute mental distress and the subsequent self destructive act of suicide.

13. 2012-02-23 09:26  
Who is 'Tam'? This individual is not cited in any previous text although there is a 'Molly Wei'? Is the writer confused?
14. 2012-02-23 10:21  
I am totally in LOVE with Mordane2k8 comments and his mind-set !!!!!
Thank you Sir.
15. 2012-02-23 11:12  
16. 2012-02-23 11:52  
Ravi will be butt-fucked in jail.
17. 2012-02-23 12:01  
Let justice be done, if guilty, maximum sentence in prison.
18. 2012-02-23 12:04  
Ravi is a typical homophobe who discriminate those he thinks are uncool. People like Ravi are the reasons why social and racial discrimination exists. Rich and stinks? Find somewhere else to live your money.
19. 2012-02-23 13:41  
Ravi is a horrible person from the article. I know some rich people who are just as arrogant. Money can't buy everything and to each his own but there are boundaries on what one can do. This is clearly way over that limit. He deserved to be punished for his mistakes.
Comment #20 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-23 13:45
21. 2012-02-23 13:46  
What would make it perfect is if Ravi gets fucked in prison by somebody he considers an "untouchable". Just a constant drilling into his ass by a person beneath his "class". So much for the caste system! So funny to think about it. But we all know Ravi will end up fat and gross in just three or four years.
Comment edited on 2012-02-23 13:50:59
Comment #22 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-23 14:29
23. 2012-02-23 14:30  
It seems Molly Wei double-crossed him to save her own ass...hahaha. Welcome to the REAL world, Ravi. ;-)
24. 2012-02-23 14:40  
One more thought. I remember this story when it first broke and I recall thinking that Ravi went through extraordinary lengths to discover the details of his roomies sex life.

Now my first thought was that like most extreme homophobes (not your garden variety religious dogma types) Mr. Ravi prol'ly had some unrequited issues of his own.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Mr. Ravi will never want for cigarettes and ramen in jail.
25. 2012-02-23 14:55  
Put him in a gay jail roomates is the answer.
26. 2012-02-23 15:48  
In regards to Molly Wei, sounds a bit like entrapment. (Not sure I'm using the correct term here.) I mean, yeah, why wouldn't she try to protect her own ass and "cooperate" with the authorities?

As for Ravi's attitudes towards poor people and those with Yahoo accounts, I don't think he should be thrown in jail for being an elitist. Instead of pointing a finger at him, think about how many times you've ever felt holier-than-thou and looked down at someone for being too overweight, too "low class," not goodlooking enough, etc., etc. It's human nature to judge people, no matter how hard you try to convince others otherwise. I don't think the law should punish for personal thoughts and beliefs--only on actions.

After reading a few news articles online, I'm not convinced Clementi committed suicide over being spied on by his roommate and some chick. Yes, the proximity of each event seems to suggest that they're linked or that there is causality. I don't see any evidence that Ravi taunted him or humiliated him to the point of suicide.

It seems like the media is treating Ravi like a scapegoat. Yes, it's tragic that Clementi died as a result of a "bad-taste prank" and, yes, gaybashings and bullying and all of that stuff are horrible events, but everyone deserves a fair trial. At the end of the day, I hope justice will be served.
Comment edited on 2012-02-23 16:07:40
27. 2012-02-23 15:50  
Why are some of you so determined in saying that Dharun Ravi acted the way he did (spying on his roommate and asking others to watch) out of his homophobia when there really isn't any indication of that? The article in the New Yorker pieced together his online chats with his friends which suggests that he's quite indifferent about his roomie being gay. His friend said, “He’s so much of a jerk that it may seem like he’s a homophobe but he’s not.”

And honestly, if I had to share my dorm room today, I would google my new roommate and find out everything there is to know as well.
28. 2012-02-23 17:17  
Googling your roommate is one thing. Secretly setting up a webcam to spy on him and broadcast it is very much another. I trust you can see the difference.

Whether he's a homophobe or not is not really the issue for me. He's an insensitive dick and a bit of jail time may wind up "taking him down a few pegs," as we say in the States, and ultimately make him a better person.
29. 2012-02-23 21:26  

Everybody Googles everybody. Its the sad world we live in. Takes the place of good ol' fashioned interpersonal communication.

Also, I don't think Ravi is a homophobe. I think he's a homo. Or at least bi-curious as they say. But the issue is the crime of secretly recording his room-mate's sexual escapades then inviting equally douche-like people to view the home porn for the sole purpose of humiliating his the guy. Whether because he doesn't like poor people, Yahoo users or people who don't drive Beemers or in fact has issues with gays.

Like every bully he is a cowardly little punk and his actions are utterly indefensible. In point of fact, if viewed through another lens, he seems more like a stalker than anything.

Look, this privileged guys actions destroyed two families and for what, to show off to friends that turned on him at the drop of a dime.

Any reasonable LBGT person whose ever dealt with coming out issues (you closeted types can stop reading now) can't do anything but empathize with Clementi. Doesn't matter if Ravi was a geniune 'phobe or just an a-hole.
Comment #30 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-23 21:27
Comment #31 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-23 21:27
Comment #32 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-23 21:27
Comment #33 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-23 21:27
34. 2012-02-23 23:06  
Chad and mordane, I get what you're saying but surely being merely an insensitive a-hole or dick is not a crime or deserves jail time.
35. 2012-02-23 23:09  
Maybe not, but involuntary manslaughter ("callous indifference") is a crime.

Anyway, Mr. Ravi would have been a perfect candidate for his own douchebagsofgrindr posting.
36. 2012-02-24 02:10  
very sensitive and thoughtful words.
As a man who has been "out" for more of his life than" in", I am just struck by the sadness of it all. Ravi has ruined his own life and at the least enabled the ending of another. Young and stupid exacts a big toll in age where any vapid thought or hair brained idea can be immediately broadcast to a wide audience.
A quiet thought for all the young guys who have not been able to see the beauty in what we are.
Quoth MR Leary: " Question authority... " and never stop doing so
37. 2012-02-24 16:21  
Sadly there is a whole sub culture hidden away who have been doing this for years, usually straight men after they get dumped, seeking vengeance. Raving was dumb enough to show off to his ' friends' at least one of whom had the sense, guilt or fear of being caught enough to break the silence.

Do gay guys film their straight room mates having sex? Not that I have heard of, I also think Ravi will get his poetic justice in jail and will probably come out years before he is let out.

True sadness for the victim, who knows I may have reacted like that were I in his shoes. But after coming out and living out I now realise that fear is not north giving up life for.
38. 2012-02-24 17:28  
@26: Indeed. Like attracts like- that's precisely the lesson Ravi needs to learn. If one is callous, self-centered & superficial one will more likely than not attract similar fair-weather friends . Hopefully he will learn from this episode- a bitter pill to swallow no doubt, but it could be just karma's way of letting him realize how important it is to have empathy for others & a respect of their boundaries- such traits are in fact considered basic courtesy in any society/environment.

Also, R.I.P to Tyler. You will not be forgotten.
39. 2012-02-24 21:36  
I wonder if he got the idea from that film American Pie, where the same thing happens to the main character when he's making love to his girlfriend. If he he would also have done it to a straight roommate, then I guess he's just a jerk invading someone's privacy with an extreme form of bullying behaviour.
40. 2012-02-25 09:50  
Hope ravi gets the max, and THEN deported

Bobochan, post any pic you want, I for one dont mind seeing your dick! Its yours, you can do with it as you wish
41. 2012-02-25 10:10  
Every one who come to america need to learn the rules to live in this country because many gays coming from countrys where to be homofobic is legally aceptable, they can be in trouble in america because everyone has to be respect no matter who we are. I wish gays can be protected in every country.

Comment #42 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-25 12:25
43. 2012-02-25 12:24  
#41- Very true. But going by that line of argument, it can be twisted back at you by the homophobes & religious fundies from those places, who btw are usually part of the ruling elite.
How many times have we heard of the fallacious accusation of homosexuality being a "Western import/disease/agenda" ad-nauseum? Not very conducive for gay & lesbian people there in the long run.
Comment #44 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-25 12:34
Comment #45 was deleted by its author on 2012-02-25 12:50
46. 2012-02-25 12:50  
#34- WHAT??? His actions humiliated his roommate, and a life is LOST, for gosh's sake. WHY is he not responsible??? He is turning into an adult man in 3yrs (though in the US he is already considered one). Ravi should be man enough to own up and take responsibility for his actions, not shirk away like a sissified coward!!!!
47. 2012-02-25 23:27  
Please note: Stay on topic, and be polite. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. Action may be taken against members who do not follow these rules.
48. 2012-03-03 16:11  
Poor little Ravi is a product of his parents values. By punishing Ravi it will also punish his family and other like-minded morons. He is a bully and his actions pushed his victim over the edge. This isn't just a gay issue. It is an issue for all victims of bullying and Ravi should get the maximum punishment possible.

As for #1 Tim1975 complaining about #2 Bobochan88... WTF???? He is fully clothed Tim! Are you the the moral police here?
Comment edited on 2012-03-03 16:14:17
49. 2012-03-12 05:40  
Well-said, andy370!!! :)

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