Roommate Charged In Rutgers University Student Tyler Clementi’s Suicide

TRENTON, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) – A former Rutgers University freshman was indicted Wednesday on a hate crime charge after allegedly using a webcam to spy on a same-sex encounter involving his roommate, who committed suicide shortly afterward in a case that started a national conversation on bullying.

A 15-count indictment was handed up Wednesday by a Middlesex County grand jury against Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, who had already faced invasion of privacy charges along with another student, Molly Wei.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg gets reaction from Rutgers students

dharun ravi and molly wei facebook Roommate Charged In Rutgers University Student Tyler Clementis Suicide

(Photo: AP/File)

The indictment charges Ravi with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, and other charges stemming from the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi in September. The indictment said charges against Wei would not be presented to the grand jury “at this time.”

Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River shortly after authorities say Ravi and Wei used a webcam to peek at his liaison. Lawyers for Ravi say the webcam stream was viewed on only a single computer and did not show the men having sex.

The indictment says Ravi targeted Clementi and invaded his privacy knowing that Clementi would be intimidated because of his sexual orientation. If convicted, Ravi could face between five to ten years on just one count.

On the Rutgers campus, it was easy to find students who thought Dharun Ravi had the 15-count indictment coming.

“If he did a crime, I guess he has to do the time,” freshman Alice Debowski said. “It’s just justice, I guess.”

“He did do something wrong, and it would be wrong to let him just go,” freshman Nive Malik said.

However, there were also plenty of students who had compassion for the former Rutgers freshman.

“He’s going to have to live with the things that happened for the rest of his life anyway, so I’m kind of mixed on further criminal charges,” senior John Aspray said.

“Personally, I think that prison is a little too harsh for him,” senior Arkady Khaykin said. “It wasn’t a murder.”

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With Student Reaction In New Brunswick

While the indictment picked at old wounds, it came at a campus that was eager to move forward.

“I think everyone understood by this act that being a bully isn’t the way to be,” Khaykin said.

“Some positive I guess has to come out of it, where people are more aware they have to be more accepting of other people,” Debowksi said.

“We just hope going forward this is a wakeup call for all of us,” Rutgers employee Helen Pirrello said.

“This was the only conceivable way to go. This indictment, 15 counts, signifies that Dharun Ravi clearly violated New Jersey law in terms of Tyler Clementi’s invasion of privacy,” Steven Goldstein, of Garden State Equality, told 1010 WINS. “The fact that Mr. Ravi invaded Tyler Clementi’s privacy based on his perception that Tyler Clementi was gay, we believe the book should be thrown at Mr. Ravi for a heinous, heinous crime.”

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With Legal Analysis

The death of Clementi, a promising violinist in his first weeks at college, came amid a string of high-profile suicides of young people who were gay or perceived to be gay.

Partly because of his high-profile death and the other circumstances surrounding his suicide, Clementi became a face of the issue.

“Those who believe this was a harmless prank should be ashamed of themselves, because that kind of attitude that leads to bullying of students in our society, and sometimes leads to death. That’s a terrible, terrible philosophy to have,” Goldstein said.

President Barack Obama and celebrities including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and sex columnist Dan Savage have talked publicly about his death and said that young gays and lesbians need to know that life gets better.

“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 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,” Jane and Joe Clementi said in a statement.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from John Metaxas
  • Steve in BHM

    Rutgers Alumni 01 says:
    April 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm
    It was his first weeks at college and he had multiple tryst with other men in his dorm room. Despicable. Ravi was the one who suffered.

    Reply: You must not remember your Freshman year very well. For the first time, you could do as you pleased. Tyler is hardly the first freshman to overindulge (or just indulge depending on your perspective)…in this case not alcohol or drugs. I remember hetero guys having sex every night while their roommates killed time in another room (though more true at UofO than Harvard it seemed). Note Ravi agreed to leave the room without complaint. If he had a problem with it, he could have asserted himself. Further, Tyler might (italics) have had pent up demand so to speak. It is much tougher to gay date in highschool so that freedom might have been long awaited. Remember, everyone has gay friends and relatives; you just don’t know it (yet).

  • Steve in BHM

    I was sad to hear Tyler killed himself. Whether the bullying “caused” his suicide is debatable. MATT f above said “these charges are way out of line.” Apparently not–the Grand Jury indicted him on several counts including “…bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering..” Note: the indictments relate to the videotaping, the attempt to broadcast it, and Ravi’s efforts to cover up his crime. He has NOT been indicted for causing Tyler to commit suicide. The charges certainly make sense. We will see if a jury agrees. I don’t want Ravi to spend ten or twenty years in jail as much as I loathe him. I do hope he spends some time in jail and is ordered to spend one year serving full time on a suicide prevention line. Some might suggest he would be a poor choice for such a role. I don’t know him, but I suspect he is now a much different person. If not, he certainly would be at the end of a year of service.

  • Rutgers Alumni 01

    It was his first weeks at college and he had multiple tryst with other men in his dorm room. Despicable. Ravi was the one who suffered.

  • Curious George

    How come Tyler Clementi’s boyfriend is silent about this?

  • Rutgers Law Student

    He decided to jump off a bridge. No one pushed him. All this would not have happened if he had focused on his studies instead of doing that stuff. Basically if his parents didn’t approve it then he shouldn’t have done it. Nobody forced him. It was his choice. One has a right to put up a webcam on his owe computer in his dorm room.

    • Claude

      @Rutgers Law,

      Your attitude is appalling for anyone, but all the more so coming from a purported law student. This young man’s rights were violated in a cruel and brutal way, Don’t try to whitewash it with technicalities.

      • Paralegal

        They were in a dorm room. No one can expect total privacy in a shared dormitory. He should have rented a hotel room.

  • gg

    Charge RUTGERS too! A residential Aid was NOTIFIED of this mans being filmed and harassed by his roommate. They passed the info on but NOTHING WAS DONE or followed up! BLAME RUTGERS!@

  • bejo59

    As painful the result of these students action may be, the prosecutor would have very hard time to prove a hate crime was committed. The only case their have is the invasion of privacy, no more no less. Any rookie lawyer just come out from law school should have no problem to beat the hate crime charge. To me, those politicians just want play politic as usual.

    • Rodin

      What politicians? What are you talking about, bleep-head?

  • Rod in

    The reason I am so angry is that gays like me should never have to endure this kind of ridicule! All you straights should be jailed!

  • Rodin

    Julio, ditto.

    • Rodin

      PS, Julio, “Why DO”, not “does.”

  • Rodin

    “Straight and Narrow” MINDED…, not to mention bigoted, judgmental, uncharitable and ignorant. Definitely a damning Christian, the worst!

    Sinned? “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone….” – John 8:7. And I’m an atheist…, louse!

  • Bell Toller

    How is it Mr. Ravis fault that he jumped off the bridge?

    • Rodin

      Ever hear of bullying and its consequences? We can’t all be as tough as you think you are.

  • danno

    I wish the kid could have given me his creme brulee recipe.

    • None Of Your Business

      Well, you’ve already got the recipe for crass insensitivity.

  • max

    OMG do you actually think anything is going to happen to those two despicable animals that did this to poor tyler
    In todays society with high priced attorneys and manipulations of the law those two will go scott free.
    They should be publicly hog tied and tortured.
    They have blood on thier hands and shoudl suffer like tylers family

    • nuts

      wow you are pathetic, way to take all the responsibility away from Tyler and put it onto the other two. Yeah what they did was wrong, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s not like they held anti-gay rallies and harnessed him day in and day out.

  • Glenn

    The charges are appropriate, now lets see if he is justly convicted, as he should be.

  • jtorres

    Tyler Clementi was not just “embarrassed” by this, he was humiliated and terrified his family would find out. I’m a straight woman and if it happened to me, I would be mortified. But not so much that it would prevent me from kicking Ravi all up and down the Rutgers campus. Let’s see how embarrassed he would be at being beat up by a small, petite girl. He deserves whatever he gets. He acted recklessly and was aware of the risks and ignored them. He may have not meant to cause the kid’s death but he did cause it. That’s the definition of recklessness. If you act irresposibly, you have to pay for the results of your actions. Period

    • Me

      He didn’t cause anything. Tyler chose to die because he was too weak to face his problem head on. Ravi did a mean thing, yes but it wasn’t bad enough to justify the ridiculous witch hunt being put on here

  • Richard T.

    Both of these kids are responsible for the young man’s death. Simply, they need to be forced to pay the penalty. There is no excuse for such cruelty and indifference. Just as the loss will remain with his parents for the rest of their lives, I hope that the mantle of shame remains with the two responsible. Anyone who has a heart and stands for the right thing in life should shun them.

  • Willy

    bye bye Ravi

  • BB

    I was very distraught when I learned of Tyler’s death, because I profoundly realized that it could have been me 30 years ago. Thankfully, I was strong enough to get through the bullying and harassment alive (mostly by isolating myself from others), but the scars and pain never really fully go away. At age 46, they still negatively affect my confidence and self esteem, pretty much ruining any hope of my having a decent personal relationship. Bullying and harassment of any type is hurtful, and it is time that we stop condoning and start condemning such behavior as a society.

    • Joseph Didonato

      bb I feel the same way at 50, i went to all boy miltary school and its was not easy lasting there for 4 years. I not only defended myself but friends as well.. When i went to a reunion i found a few people who apologized to me, but honestly it was way too late. There is no place for bullying in the school systems.

  • None Of Your Business

    One of the saddest events I have ever heard of was Tyler Clementi committing suicide because of the horrendous actions of his roommate and that female friend of the roommate.

    I hope the roommate iand the girl are both given the death penalty. And for their executions, toss them both off the George Washington Bridge.

    • D Truth

      hey hey!! am with you guys …i think those 2 air heads clemete had as roomates should have jumped off the george washington bridge too….

  • NJ Teacher

    My faith in the justice system is fortified as the charges against this young criminal have been announced. We’ll take it one step at a time but, already, Tyler’s death will not be in vain.

  • treepose

    I feel for both of the young men. It’s sad that one of them was so insensitive and unthinking(of the consequences that could follow) and unlawful in filming what wasn’t his right to film , and it’s sad that the other committed an unlawful, insensitive( to the people who loved him and the public who would have cherished his talents) and heartbreaking act. Nobody wins. There is no room left in this world for hatred and judgement. When will we wake up?

    • RU alumni and concerned citizen

      well said thank you

  • Matt F

    these charges are way out of line invasion of privacy should be the max

  • baby

    This is absolute BS. If the idiot hadn’t commit suicide the charges would have been a slap on the wrist. They’re basically charging Ravi for something Tyler did.

    @cos – i agree…no matter how bad your life is..suicide is WRONG! from EVERY aspect!

    • Rodin

      How righteous! Must be a “Christian”, the arrogance of piety shows.

      MY life is MINE. What I do with it, for better or worse is MY business.

      If “suicide is WRONG,” as you pronounce, then in this case, having been the instigator, MR. Ravi is a despicable accessory to the crime.

  • Hal Mann

    Anything beyond invasion of privacy is completely uncalled for. No one, but no one, is responsible for another’s suicide. The only person responsible for that is Clemente himself.

    • Starr

      Do you know about the psychology behind suicide and depression? Hopelessness. No Way Out. Suicide by males may be less attempted but it is more often fatal.

      This kid was already insecure, had no self-image/confidence, was anxious and depressed, as well as having an identity crisis.

      Bullying is one of the main reasons suicide occurs. The insults and verbal/mental abuse add up. Thoughts that were quiet in someone’s head can become loud and leave them unable to escape.

      Someone who commits suicide, especially sparked by something as “simple” as a thought of being “outed”, is a tragedy.

      The ultimate act may have been Tyler’s but Ravi was the main reason.

      Involuntary manslaughter would be a bit much but putting a charge on the invasion of privacy and bullying? Well done.

  • RS

    Great news! This is the ultimate in bullying. It has to stop and examples have to be made. This is one of them!!! No punishment is harsh enough for this student.

    • baby

      You have no clue what you’re talking about. Here’s why:

      Let’s say I’m asian, and you’re kind of a d*ck. One day, you ask me how can I see clearly when my eyes are so slanted.

      I go home, embarrased and depressed, and kill myself.

      You get blamed and charged for my death.

      That’s what happening here.

      • Joseph Didonato

        No thats not whats happening here. I was bullied in school with words, never violence. He filmed him having sex- Its completely different-it never goes away once its on the internet, It will follow him forever!! your analogy makes no sense.

      • Jeff Rosen ret NYPD

        That is actually a good analogy. Bullying is wrong and and what Mr Ravi did was terrible but I can’t see any way he can be charged for the other person’s suicide. I’m pretty sure there was no intent to kill. If Mr Clemente didn’t kill himself there probably wouldn’t even be any charges, it never would have even gone to the authorities.
        Another analogy would be charging Alan Funt if someone on Candid Camera killed himself because his filmage embarassed him.

  • Glen from Manhattan

    I thought Ravi skipped back to India. BTW, wasn’t there also a girl involved in broadcasting this horrific invasion of privacy? Is she going to be charged, also?

    • eddie murphy

      Nick- when are we doing another 48 hours???

  • jenb

    @ cos-who are you to judge that “suicide is wrong”.? and then you state that if it was a straight woman she “wouldn’t have committed suicide”. really? we have no idea what this young man went through prior to this, what other troubles he had, what his state of mind was. you do not speak for anyone but yourself with your ignorant, misinformed and troubling views.

    • Cos

      Try practical views… My quote was “but probably wouldn’t have commited suicide”. You need to read the comment before voicing opposition. “PROBABLY WOULDN’T” equates to an uncertain possibility – not something that WILL happen. I chose my words very carefully. I used that analogy because (unfortunately) women are more likely to be harrassed than men. So, I’m assuming that you agree with the act of committing suicide? Your comments do suggest that. Help me understand why suicide is good…

      • Rodin

        You never would or could. That it might not be a solution for you doesn’t mean it’s not valid for someone else.

  • Sheryl

    Are you insane?

    • Cos

      Not insane… Just practical… I do not condone the actions taken by the folks who used the webcam in an inappropriate manner… However, I know of many people who didn’t go to ‘Rutgers’ – or didn’t even finish High School – who are struggling to survive. That includes those with ‘alternative’ life styles and those who are more traditional. Suicide is wrong on every level – period. I (personally) don’t feel sorry for someone who commits suicide because they couldn’t live with a decision they made. If the decision was forced on them – then maybe I can find a gray area.

      • Rodin

        What “decision they mad”? You mean the “decision” to ‘become ‘ gay???

        “Suicide is wrong on every level – period”? Says who? Have you walked in their shoes?

        “I (personally) don’t feel sorry for someone who commits suicide”? Neither do I. I respect their decision, a decision that is no one else’s to make or judge.

        How judgmental… and ignorant.

    • Frank D

      There are some people that are more sensitive than others.

  • Bell Toller

    Mr. Ravi is being charged because of his ethnicity.

    • Jeanne

      Mr. Ravi is being charged because there is evidence of a crime……

    • Frank D

      Ravi is being charged to feed the press. Simple.

      Someone must be blamed for this. Guess who

      • Joseph Didonato

        Ravi should have been thrown off that bridge!!!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live