NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The family of a Rutgers student who committed suicide after his roommate allegedly used a webcam to spy on him plans to return to the campus next week for a symposium on social media.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation, which they set up in their son’s honor after his death in September 2010, is co-sponsoring the event with Rutgers. A lawyer for the family says Clementi’s father, Joe, will make some introductory remarks during the forum.
“It is a good thing, one of the kinds of things that the foundation will seek to encourage at Rutgers and with other institutions,” Paul Mainardi, a lawyer for the family, said in an email.
The event is a daylong, academically oriented outgrowth of the national conversation Clementi’s death sparked about online bullying and bullying of young gays.
Tyler Clementi, 18, had been at Rutgers only a few weeks when roommate Dharun Ravi allegedly used a webcam to spy on his intimate dorm-room encounter with another man.
Days later, Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi, now 19, is charged with 15 offenses including invasion of privacy and the hate crime of bias intimidation and could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if he’s found guilty on all counts. He has rejected a plea bargain offer that would have come with a recommended prison sentence of 3 to 5 years. A trial is scheduled for February.
Joe and Jane Clementi, of Ridgewood, have not granted any interviews since their son’s death, but they have been regulars in the courtroom for Ravi’s appearances and have read statements after them and had their lawyer send other statements to reporters. Most recently, they have said that while they want Ravi to be held accountable for his alleged crimes, he does not have to face a harsh penalty.
Last December, they filed a notice of claim against Rutgers. The legal paper preserved their right to sue the university.
But so far they have not followed through with a suit. Mainardi, their lawyer, said there has not been any sort of out-of-court settlement to pave the way for Monday’s symposium.
“The family has not been focusing on potential civil claims during this past year which, as you know, has been very difficult for them,” Mainardi said. “Now, their focus is turning to getting together to help accomplish good things in Tyler’s name.”
This is to be the family’s first time on Rutgers’ main campus in New Brunswick since their son’s death. They did attend an anti-bullying Wiffle ball game at the Camden campus earlier this year. While there, Mainardi said, they met briefly with University President Richard McCormick.
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