Karen Ocamb

Former College Freshman Indicted in Suicide of Tyler Clementi

Filed By Karen Ocamb | April 20, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-bullying, Dharun Ravi, Garden State Equality, gay teen suicides, invasion of privacy, Tyler Clementi

Former Rutgers University freshman Dharun Ravi received a 15-count indictment on Wednesday, April 20, from a Middlesex County grand jury for "invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, and other charges stemming from the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi in September," AP reports. Tyler_Clementi.jpgClementi posted a farewell note on his Facebook page then jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River after discovering that Ravi and another student used a webcam to live stream Clementi being intimate with another man.

Ironically, the indictments come down the day after a major study by Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher, on suicide attempts by gay teens appeared in the journal Pediatrics. The study looked at nearly 32,000 high school students in the state of Oregon and found 1,584 total suicide attempts - 304 of those among gays, lesbians and bisexuals - among teens who self-reported suicide attempts in the previous year. The report also found that "[s]uicide attempts by gay teens - and even straight kids - are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don't have programs supporting gay rights," AP reported. "Roughly 20 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens said they had made an attempt, versus 4 percent of straight kids."

Hatzenbuehler told AP that the results show that "environments that are good for gay youth are also healthy for heterosexual youth" - surely a point that will be picked up by supporters of the California FAIR Education Act.

Meanwhile, Garden State Equality, which has been the lead sponsor behind New Jersey's new anti-bullying law, issued this press release about the Ravi indictment:

Garden State Equality commends Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan and the grand jury for its 15-count indictment of Dharun Ravi. Without question, the indictment is in the best interests of justice and in the best interests of students across New Jersey, for their potential bullies will now think harder before demolishing another student's life.

As Garden State Equality has said all along, Mr. Ravi's grotesque violation of Tyler Clementi's invasion of privacy, based on Mr. Ravi's perception of Tyler's sexual orientation, presents the clearest-cut violation of New Jersey law. You could not ask for a clearer case.

To those who say that Mr. Ravi's conduct was merely a prank that students are apt to pull - and that somehow he should not receive a tough sentence - we say that's nonsense. That heinous philosophy has tragically done so much to create a bullying epidemic in our state and nation in the first place.

Today's indictment, when combined with the recently enacted anti-bullying law which Garden State Equality steered to enactment - widely considered the strongest anti-bullying law in the country - will have an appropriate chilling effect on bullies everywhere.

We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler Clementi deeply. Today is a day of justice.

Here's an ABC News video to remind you of who Tyler Clementi was:

(Crossposted at LGBT POV. Photo via Facebook)

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I look forward to Mr. Ravi's re-entrance into society after he's had sufficient time in prison to consider exactly what his role was in Tyler's suicide.

I hope what emerges is a far different person, someone who will spend the rest of this life helping to prevent the next phone call to the next set of unsuspecting parents.

I'll admit I'm still torn over this one. He was kissing someone and that was shown/watched by a handful of people. While this article and the AP story linked say things like "being intimate," they weren't having sex.

So if the school newspaper had snapped a pic of a male student kissing another guy, published it, & one of them commits suicide, does that make the paper responsible? Or is it the student's responsibility to act rationally?

It still seems to me that the overwhelming amount of self-hate & buried homophobia instilled in the kid by his parents had more to do with it than a college kissing prank.

Bil, a couple of points:

First, and I think crucially, Dharun is not being charged in connection with Tyler's death. He's being charged with breaking the privacy laws of New Jersey, bias intimidation and tampering with evidence.

Second, if a school newspaper takes a shot of two boys kissing, I'm assuming they are in public where they have no "reasonable" expectations of privacy.

Ravi hatched, plotted, carried out and then try to conceal his crime precisely because Tyler was gay.

I have no sympathy for Mr. Ravi.

I'm sure you've seen this, but I thought you might be interested just in case. It's the 15-count indictment that was handed down by the Middlesex County prosecutors:


Having studied Journalism in college (but I switched to a different major before graduating), I know that I was taught that private individuals who are identified by name in a photo should be asked to sign a press release. This standard does not apply to "public figures", who can expect to have photos published because of the role they have assumed in society.

I expect that any responsible editor would require a signed press release before publishing a photo of two men kissing. I doubt that someone closeted would sign such a release.

Bil, I think the important distinction to make here is that this wasn't a kiss happening in public, where anyone might see -- it was happening behind closed doors, in the privacy of his dorm room, and it was being taped and broadcast without his knowledge or consent.

Regan DuCasse | April 21, 2011 11:25 AM

I always suspected that Tyler's extreme act was in part due to how his family could react. We know that young people like him are threatened with having their college funds cut off, being abandoned by the family or some other emotional and situational blackmail he didn't want to face.

Ravi committed an act that could leverage all kinds of blackmail in other ways for all Tyler knew. He did something deliberate, but it was deliberate against a GAY student. Not ANY other kind, who was straight or involved in any other way where vulnerability might not have been as evident.
No, he chose Tyler.
And I also suspect, that since they were roommates, that Tyler confided certain things in Ravi that Ravi knew he could use to torment Tyler in other ways.
Further evidence of how people LIKE to do just that. Torment a person they think or know is gay, but is still discreet or closeted about it.

Ravi DID do something evil and mean. He set out to hurt Tyler in one way or the other. He might not have anticipated that Tyler would kill himself, but anyone that takes it upon themselves to fuck with a gay person, on some level knows there are higher levels of risks possible to that gay person.

Ravi just didn't care. And going to jail is very appropriate.
As for Tyler's family, they were very quiet after the fact, and didn't seem to DEFEND Tyler in the forceful and determined way ACCEPTING parents tend to.
The parents of suicides on some levels think they are guilty of something.
Gay kids are an exception in that sometimes their parents already see them as dead in their minds. A family willing to utterly shun that child, already has disconnected themselves from feeling anything for them by way of advocacy or accepting what homosexuality is and the effect of their religious bigotry on that child.
Mary Griffith was an exception in the the suicide of her gay son, shook her into advocacy.

There is also an exceptional kind of cowardice and brutality in what Ravi did. He exploited Tyler's vulnerability, whether it was with Tyler's family, school situation and did something extremely cruel.
To hell with HIM. I hope he gets whats coming to him and I hope the Clementi family understand the gravity of their beliefs and understanding being a contributing factor also.