The Indictment of Dharun Ravi

Comments

1
If Ravi's lawyer has any sense at all, he'll call you as an expert witness. Your and Terry's stature in organizing thousands of It Gets Better videos, and the book, ought to count for something.
2
It's possible that Tyler Clementi killed himself because of decades of abuse at home and school, and this was the last straw. But people have killed themselves for less than having their sex lives secretly taped and shown to the whole world. Sure, Tyler's partner didn't kill himself, but that doesn't really mean anything. Suicide isn't exactly a rational decision, and everyone responds to a trauma like this differently. The systematic abuse of gay children is abhorrent and has to stop, I totally agree. However, I would caution against trying to shoehorn Tyler's case into the standard paradigm of anti-gay harassment at home and school. If there turns out to be no connection, it could harm your cause.
3
I agree that there are major systemic issues at play that need to be addressed, but that doesn't change the fact that what those two "stupid teenagers" did was sexual assault and they deserve to be prosecuted for it. NO ONE--male, female, genderqueer, gay, straight, kinky, vanilla--deceives to be videotaped or have a tape distributed without zir consent. It is a gross denial of bodily autonomy and is a form of sexual coercion/exploitation.
4
Did you read the indictment, Dan? Because there are counts in there for destruction of evidence and witness tampering. That is serious stuff.

Further, when one chooses to persecute or injure one with known or expected vulnerabilities, that makes the crime worse, from both a moral and legal perspective. In other words, his mental state as a result of past abuse or cruelty doesn't excuse the crime,it illustrates the callousness and fault of the criminals

There is no doubt in my mind that Wei and Ravi did not intend Tyler's suicide. They may well have been just the straw that broke the camel's back. But that is not an excuse and prosecuting them is not a coverup. They are charged with the crimes fitting their criminal conduct, and the penalties will be related to that conduct, with an opportunity for them to bring in ameliorating factors.

Ought we to hold responsible, morally, all parties in Tyler's past that contributed to his response to this situation? You bet! But what the justice system is concerned with is the specific criminal acts of these two people.

It is unclear why Wei's conduct was not offered up to the grand jury for indictment consideration. One media commenter has suggested that it is because she has not cooperated with investigators. I wonder if the opposite is true, and it is she that reported Ravi's destruction of evidence and pressuring her to misrepresent facts. Time will tell.

Rest in peace, Tyler. May this prosecution and the attendant publicity serve to discourage other heedless cruelty.
5
Good news. This has been a long time coming.

Rest In Peace, Tyler.
6
Yeah @4 @5, what you both said.
7
Yes @4.

Dan, you are looking at the long view and that is right to do.

But, from a societal standpoint, the "teenagers" (who are legal adults and boy are they going to find that out in court) are to be held accountable for breaking the law.

I don't even know how many counts there are but it surely involves privacy in viewing Tyler and his partner and the use of the internet to allow others to as well. That Tyler killed himself is not part of the legal discussion (unless they knew he was leaning that way and gave him a big push). They need to be held accountable for their actions.
8
I would expect this to be prosecuted whether the victim committed suicide or not, whether he was straight or gay, and whether the perpetrators were "stupid teenagers" or not. Video taping someone in their home should be illegal. Video taping someone engaged in private acts should be more illegal. Disseminating those illegally made videos over the Internet should be even more illegal. Finally, purposefully targeting the victims peers and neighbors to view said video should be another charge. Regardless of orientation, this was a crime. It is only made more horrible by the fact that its victim was one of a population of oppressed individuals, in a psychologically vulnerable time in his life.

People need to be held accountable for bullying, whomever they torment. I was a "stupid teenager" not too long ago, and I would never have done something like this. Make no excuses for these little assholes. They deserve everything they get. I hope an example is made of them for all the other little assholes growing up with no repercussions for their assholery. Don't act less than human, or we'll lock you up like the antisocial animal you are.
9
I agree with all the comments above, and want to clarify mine.

1) Ravi needs prosecution. I hope he gets punished and that the case gets widespread publicity and his actions get widespread condemnation.

2) He still deserves a defense. His attorney might be able to mount an effort using Dan or another expert witness.

3) That defense should fail, as when: if a mugger pushes over a frail person who had lots of pre-existing problems, and that person dies, it's still the mugger's fault that they died. It's felony murder in my state.

4) The wider issue of the accumulated hurt and damage of bullying and discrimination needs as much airing as possible. Injecting that into this case shouldn't really change the outcome, but it might change the public dialog.
10
I think Dan is lucky he's as well-adjusted as he is. Many of us are not so lucky, and I know without doubt that what happened to Tyler would have sent me to the bridge at his age. Not a moment's hesitation or backward glance. Hell, it still might and I'm 54.
There is no punishment this country can mete out that will be too harsh for these two people. This kind of shit needs to stop, and I don't care what it takes to make that happen. Tyler (and all gay kids) grow up with a culture of shame for the only sex they know how to have, starting at home. We should never under-estimate what that shame will drive them to do, and all the IGBP's in the world won't un-do that in a moment of exposure like this.
11
Dan, I respect your view, and I do think that larger societal issues need to be changed. However, Tyler's death was a direct result of the gross destruction of his privacy by his roommate and his roommate's friend. They need to be held accountable.
12
I've been ambivalent about this issue. On the one hand, to call the behavior of these students an innocent prank misses the point of sadistic bullying and its effect on victims. On the other hand, to levy an 11-year sentence misses the point of suicide. Ravi's actions may have pushed Clementi over the edge, but Clementi had to be on the edge already in order to have been pushed. What was the rest of his life like? His friends, his families, his environment? His life didn't begin and end in that dorm room -- why don't we know anything about his life but what happened at the very end of it? To really bring attention to the mental health and well-being of LGBT kids, it's not enough just to say, "Dharun Ravi did it." Ravi should be punished, and it is rightly being treated as a hate crime. I hope he's convicted, but I also hope we don't oversimplify the issue and miss an opportunity to learn from it.
13
Certainly there was more behind Tyler's suicide. However, the fact that the other kid didn't kill himself is immaterial. They are two different individuals who respond differently--we can't eliminate that variable in the mix. For all we know, their backgrounds and experiences were very similar.
14
I hope I'm not the only one out here who thinks this: I wish they wouldn't prosecute Dharun Ravi. Videotaping Tyler Clementi was horribly cruel, and if Clementi hadn't committed suicide, then yes, I would think Ravi should be punished.

But as it is, I can't imagine a worse punishment than discovering that your roommate killed himself because of a prank you played on him. Ravi isn't even twenty yet, and Tyler Clementi is going to haunt his dreams for the rest of his life. Any additional punishment misses the point: Ravi's life is already irrevocably, fundamentally damaged. Taking out our anger and pain on him does nothing for Clementi or anyone else--all it does is make it even harder for Ravi to pull his life back together.
15
The authorities HAVE to prosecute Ravi! If they do not, it sends the message that such bullying is OK and that it's alright to invade someone's privacy. I think it WAS a hate crime -- I think Ravi only disseminated the images because his roommate was gay and he found it weird/strange/undesirable/whatever. We have no way of knowing if Ravi feels remorse, how much, how often, or at all. He deserves the toughest punishment that can be meted out to him -- not only because of what he did, but to set an example for others. Hopefully, other kids who are considering similar "pranks" will think twice about taking such action.
16
Cait, I think you are begging the question; we don't know Ravi's level of remorse. If he shows genuine remorse, then maybe the prosecutors will cut him a deal with minimal to no jail time. If he acts like a little prick, like people are persecuting him for something he sees as 'no big deal', then I hope he gets a few years in the pokey.

As to why the other fellow didn't kill himself...maybe he was more out than Tyler. Maybe the additional feeling of betrayal that his roommate did this made it hurt worse for Tyler. Maybe the dude is an exhibitionist and got off on it a little--until Tyler jumped off the bridge.

We don't know; we can't know. We do know that Ravi (allegedly) committed crimes. Because of the suicide--and the rash of young gays' suicides at the time--Ravi's actions got more attention than they otherwise would. But the actions were still criminal and deserve consequences.
17
People pointing out Ravi's youth should consider where they draw the line at accepting criminal behavior as, well, *criminal* and not just a juvenile mistake.

When high school students bully - especially when they physically push, strike, or otherwise physically hurt others - should they be charged with assault? Mostly, they're not. It's handled outside the court system with mediation by the school, if it's handled at all.

When college students engage in certain criminal actions, the college often handles it privately (some would argue that it's often to preserve the reputation of the college). If a suicide hadn't made the actions of these two students so public, I doubt there would have been legal action.

At what point do we start treating people like responsible agents and actually charge them with (and convict them for) crimes when they commit them? 16? 18? 21? Do we need some sort of system that spans the ages between juvenile detention and prison? Should there be maximum sentencing laws specifically for people under a certain age, due to the fact that they "have their whole life ahead of them?"

I think that criminal behavior by college students should be prosecuted more reliably. Perhaps high schoolers should be educated about what constitutes breaking the law before they leave the relatively (legally) protected environment of high school/youth so they think twice about their behavior.
18
It has been pointed out that the GW bridge is much, much closer to the Clementi family home than his dorm was. There was also a bit of a delay between the humiliating revelation and his final suicide, leading to some very grim speculation: did Tyler Clementi, hurting and scared, drive home and try to tell his parents what had happened? Was a rebuke his family the actual final blow that sent him off towards that bridge?

While the prosecution of Ravi should continue (he's probably guilty of wiretapping law violations, etc.), I think his parents can be asked that difficult question as a parallel inquiry. If it is not asked now, it will almost certainly be asked by Ravi's attorney in an attempt to cast doubt on the consequences of the videotaping episode. Like it or not, we wouldn't be hearing about this trial at all if it weren't for his suicide.
19
Yeek,
You are correct: it is merely speculation. It is also irrelevant for the trial. Ravi is being tried on invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence, witness tampering, etc. The location of the bridge is irrelevant, the reaction (if any) by his parents is irrelevant, the alleged "bit of a delay" is irrelevant. And this: "Was a rebuke [from] his family the actual final blow that sent him off towards that bridge?" Holy Geraldo--two entirely unsupported speculations in one sentence; you sound as though you write for one of those news stand rags where news is irrelevant so long as you have speculation and rumors.
20


Former Rutgers University student, 19-year-old Dharun Ravi, gave a not guilty plea to 15 charges today in a New Brunswick, N.J. courtroom. Ravi is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate during a same-sex intimate encounter with a webcam. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, was an eighteen-year old violinist. The webcam incident, which apparently led to Clementi choosing suicide, made gay violence a national topic. I found this here: Not guilty plea entered in Rutgers webcam suicide case, newstype.com.
21
Daniel_NY wrote: "I've been ambivalent about this issue. On the one hand, to call the behavior of these students an innocent prank misses the point of sadistic bullying and its effect on victims. On the other hand, to levy an 11-year sentence misses the point of suicide. Ravi's actions may have pushed Clementi over the edge, but Clementi had to be on the edge already in order to have been pushed. What was the rest of his life like? His friends, his families, his environment? His life didn't begin and end in that dorm room -- why don't we know anything about his life but what happened at the very end of it? To really bring attention to the mental health and well-being of LGBT kids, it's not enough just to say, "Dharun Ravi did it." Ravi should be punished, and it is rightly being treated as a hate crime. I hope he's convicted, but I also hope we don't oversimplify the issue and miss an opportunity to learn from it."
Captures my sentiments perfectly! I find it hard to believe someone nurtured in a loving and accepting home environment would have killed himself. So, why are the Clementi parents so silent? One statement after the fact (as far as I've been able to find) and nothing else. Does anyone know their religious persuasion? Tyler reminds me of me, at his age - the youngest member of a "devout" Roman Catholic family, frightened, alone and falsely convinced that being gay was a terrible, shameful sin. Someone should be investigating the other aspects of Tyler's life, particularly his family and their religious persuasions.
22
To describe 19 year old Dharun Ravi as a teenager is technically correct, but legally misleading. At 18 he attained legal adulthood in this society for all purposes except the consumption of alcohol. As an adult, he is not a child unaware of his legal culpability. He should be held legally responsible for his actions.

As far as remorse, I believe the alleged concealment and destruction of evidence would indicate he is less than forthcoming about what he intended and carried out.
23
Ravi did not destroy Clementi. Clementi destroyed Clementi. Ravi played an immature prank, and then apologized for it. Then, and only then, did Clementi kill himself.

Clementi's familiy should be apologizing to Tyler. And the gay community should be doing some soul searching about their desire to send a teenager to prison in order to make a political point.