NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life was convicted of all counts Friday in a case that exploded into the headlines when the victim of the snooping committed suicide by throwing himself off a bridge.
Do you remember this story? Dharun Ravi, a student at Rutgers University, who had a history of anti-gay sentiment, suspected that his roommate Tyler was gay, so he decided to set up a secret webcam to catch him in the act.
He succeeded. The webcam caught pictures of a naked Tyler kissing another man. Ravi then tweeted repeatedly about what he had seen. Tyler’s boyfriend testified that when he left Tyler’s room, students were standing about laughing and staring at him in a way that “unsettled him.”
Tyler reportedly checked Ravi’s Twitter feed more than 35 times over the next two days; Ravi had posted several times about Tyler “kissing a dude.”
Tyler was a very quiet and private student, an aspiring violinist who had requested a private room because he felt that his roommate was spying on him.
Finally, as the webcam pictures of Tyler were spread wider by Ravi and a group of his friends, on September 22, 2011, Tyler posted a final message on his Facebook page, “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry” and disappeared. Witnesses reported to the police that just before 9:00p.m. that night, they had seen someone jump off the bridge into the Hudson River. Police recovered the body, and they eventually identified the young man as Tyler Clementi.
Ravi was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes, including ‘bias intimidation,’ which is classified as a hate crime and invasion of privacy, and was convicted on Friday on all fifteen counts. He could be sentenced to years in prison and deportation back to his native India.
Ravi was not charged as an accessory to murder for the suicide of Tyler Clementi. In my opinion, he should have been. Ravi invaded Tyler Clementi’s privacy in the most vile and disgusting way and made him a laughingstock over the internet. This is nothing more than the worst kind of bullying and gay-bashing, and I believe that Dharun Ravi should be held fully responsible for the death of Tyler Clementi.
Mr. Ravi murdered Tyler just as surely as if he had aimed a gun at his heart and pulled the trigger.
Words can be every bit as deadly as bullets.
Remember that the next time you’re tempted to call someone a “faggot” or a “fat pig” or “Tiller the Baby Killer.”