Just a quick update tonight on the Tyler Clementi case as it pertains to Dharun Ravi, Tyler’s former roommate at Rutgers University.
I’m sure you all remember reading and hearing about the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi this past September shortly after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, and Molly Wei, allegedly videoed a romantic encounter Tyler had with another man in his dorm room and streamed it online for others to see.
I have reported already in a previous blog, that Molly Wei appeared in court earlier this month where she pled not guilty in two counts of invasion of privacy for watching the video with Ravi. Per court orders, Wei must complete a three-year counseling program on cyber bullying as well as alternate and cultural lifestyles. She must also complete 300 hours of community service. Included in her plea deal was her agreement to testify against Ravi. If she completes the counseling and community service without further legal problems, the invasion of privacy charges will be dropped from her record.
So, that leaves us with Dharun Ravi whose attorneys entered a not guilty plea today on behalf of their client. No surprise there, right? He is charged with streaming the video of this physical relationship which, according to prosecutors, was allegedly accessed from another room and then advertised on Twitter, making this private encounter, without Tyler’s knowledge, publicly available to others.
Ravi is facing a 15-count indictment of hate crime charges involving invasion of privacy and evidence tampering. Prosecutors claim that after the incident (I’m sure when Ravi realized what kind of trouble he was in) he tried to cover up his actions by deleting a previous Twitter post, replacing it with one he hoped would mislead investigators. Additionally, prosecutors claim that he asked witnesses not to testify against him.
The tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi has sparked grave concern for young people like Tyler who face bullying on school campuses leading to an increase in anti-bullying sentiment all across our nation. It sparked President Obama less than a month after his death to condemn what had transpired at Rutgers University and to say to others like Tyler, “You are not alone. You did not do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied and there is a whole world waiting for you filled with possibilities.”
And it prompted the proposed federal anti-harassment legislation called the “Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.” If this law is passed, it would require any school that receives federal student aid to develop policies which would prohibit the harassment of any student on a school campus.
In the meantime, I will continue to update you regarding Dharun Ravi’s case. I can only hope the courts remember the family of Tyler Clementi before agreeing to any deals which keep Ravi from facing up to the consequences of his misguided and bigoted actions. A slap on the wrist this time would be criminal!