Tyler Clementi’s roomate’s trial started today

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The cast from Bare: A Pop Opera

Dharun Ravi is the student that used a webcam to spy on Tyler Clementi.

Jury selection began today in the trial of Dharun Ravi. He was Tyler Clementi freshman roomate at Rutgers University. Clementi committed suicide soon after the invasion of his privacy by jumping off the George Washington Bridge beginning a firestorm of interest in bullying nationwide. Ravi’s attorneys will argue that Ravi actually held no ill will towards Tyler. 

It has been reported that he had sent some conciliatory texts to Clementi after it was revealed on campus that he’d been spying. Although it seems to some that the newly public and originally private texts may actually contradict Ravi’s previous statements.

According to The New Jersey Record, Ravi texted Clementi in an attempt to explain his actions saying, “Sunday night when you requested to have someone over I didn’t realize you wanted the room in private. I went to Molly’s room and I was showing her how I set up my computer so I can access it from anywhere. I turned on my camera and saw you in the corner of the screen and I immediately closed it. I felt uncomfortable and guilty of what happened. Obviously I told people what occurred so they could give me advice. Then Tuesday when you requested the room again, I wanted to make sure what happened Sunday wouldn’t happen again and not to video chat me from 930 to 12. Just in case, I turned my camera away and put my computer to sleep so even if anyone tried it wouldn’t work. I wanted to make amends for Sunday night.”

Tyler Clementi's High School Yearbook photo

Tyler Clementi’s High School Yearbook photo

Although very conciliatory to Tyler it does not jive with the messages he had sent to others that said,  “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and midnight. Yes, it’s happening again.”

Since the initial shock to the entire country when Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge new details have emerged about Tyler  too that confuse the story so much more of why he committed suicide. Many reports had said last year that he may have been afraid of coming out to his family. But we now know that Tyler had already come out to his immediate family that summer and to some of his friends too. Another big change is that he was not having sex on the webcam screen, he was only seen hugging and kissing another man.

According to Ravi’s lawyers, the resulting images were seen by just a few people and were never “broadcast.” Although some experts say anything electronic is actually a “broadcast.” The defense lawyers state emphaticaly that he’s not guilty and that’s why he rejected the plea agreement that Middlesex County prosecultors had tried so hard to get him to agree to. They had offered him a plea that included no jail time.  In addition to the 15 counts, the most serious charge is bias intimidation, a New Jersey state hate crime which carries a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Experts say the prosecution’s defense will most likely rest on the series of electronic messages from the computers of both Dharun and Tyler. The messages seem to show that Dharun Ravi, a 19 year old on the Rutgers campus for just a few weeks was both disgusted and fascinated by Tyler Clementi’s sexual orientation. Young people sometimes do many stupid things, some online comments have stressed, but not all of them are hate crimes. 

Lawmakers and Prosecutors are watching this case closely to see how it plays out as a hate crime. Some are saying that using a webcam is not that serious an issue on its own. But it is obvious, in this particular case, that had Tyler Clememti been straight he would not have fascinated Dharun Ravi enough to be on the webcam at all – and certainly not enough to be chattting with his new friends on campus to join the video chat.

The trial is expected to last at least a month. Meanwhile, the Clementi family has established a foundation to raise awareness of LGBT suicide prevention. And in the past few weeks since Tyler’s younger brother was featured in an article in “Out” magazine the family has not spoken to the media much more except to mention that they have not even received an apology from Dharun Ravi or his family.

 

Dharun Ravi is the student that used a webcam to spy on Tyler Clementi.

Jury selection began today in the trial of Dharun Ravi. He was Tyler Clementi freshman roomate at Rutgers University. Clementi committed suicide soon after the invasion of his privacy by jumping off the George Washington Bridge beginning a firestorm of interest in bullying nationwide. Ravi’s attorneys will argue that Ravi actually held no ill will towards Tyler.