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Privacy Case Against Tyler Clementi's Former Roommate Will Go To Trial

By carolyncastiglia |

tyler clementi, invasion of privacy, dharun ravi

Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi

Dharun Ravi, the 19-year-old former roommate of Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers student who killed himself last fall after Ravi filmed him making out with another male student, appeared in court today and “affirmed his decision to go to trial,” NBC reports.  Ravi has been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.  According to NBC, “A judge set a trial date of Feb. 21 for the case, which helped set off a national conversation about bullying of young gays and lesbians.”

And yet – the court says – Clementi’s subsequent suicide is irrelevant in the privacy case against Ravi, who was also charged with three counts of evidence tampering and one count of witness tampering, “in that, according to prosecutors, he attempted to mislead investigators and witnesses in various ways during the investigation,” People magazine reports.  They also note that “Molly Wei, the other defendant in the case, agreed last May to testify against Ravi in exchange for being accepted into a program for first-time offenders.  Wei, 19, has to perform 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling and work fulltime (or part-time if she is in school).  If she successfully meets those conditions, the two invasion-of-privacy charges against her will be dismissed after three years.”

Some in the gay community even have questioned the bias charges against Ravi, like Marc Poirier, an openly gay professor at Seton Hall Law School who is an expert in the field of law, culture and sexuality.  He told the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

This seems to me a very harsh use of New Jersey’s bias intimidation statute. I don’t think we have sufficient flexibility in the law to address what Ravi is alleged to have done, which is to taunt and embarrass but not to physically attack.

A bias charge is usually linked to an underlying crime involving violence, like murder, assault or vehicular homicide. But that’s not the kind of crime Ravi is charged with. He’s facing invasion of privacy charges, and the bias charge is linked to that.

Technically, Clementi’s suicide is irrelevant to what Ravi has been charged with, but it colors everybody’s point of view.

It’s important to note, as Poirier does, that “Invasion of privacy is listed in the bias intimidation statute, right along with murder, assault or vehicular homicide.”  It seems clear to me that Ravi was only invading Clementi’s privacy to taunt him about being gay, so the bias charge makes perfect sense to me.  If convicted, Ravi faces 10 years in prison.

Photo: People

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About carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “Privacy Case Against Tyler Clementi's Former Roommate Will Go To Trial

  1. Sanriobaby =^.^= says:

    The only reason that Tyler’s roommate filmed him in the first place was to either hold something over him or to humilate him in front of his friends and other classmates. He invaded his privacy and deserves to be held accountable for that. Ravi could have never imagined that his actions would have pushed Tyler to his breaking point and ultimate suicide, but we all deserve to live our lives w/some amount of privacy and w/o the intimidation of being outed and humilated for the enjoyment of others who don’t have a basic sense of decency for thier fellow man. I strongly disagree w/Marc Poirier b/c while it may not have been Ravi’s intention to “physically” do harm to Tyler, his insentitive, cruel, and irresponsible actions DID contribute to Tyler’s suicide. No one really knows how much a person can take before they reach thier breaking point and even then, no one can predict what actions that person will do against themselves or others. My point is, there a right and wrong to everything and planning to tape your roommate while they are having a sexual encounter in order to publicize it to his peer group, regardless of the issue of homosexuality, is wrong on every level in my book. Ravi needs to pay for his actions, since his actions were a contributing factor in the death of Tyler. I hope this case will serve as a reminder and as a cautionary tale that these young people can’t go around planning to humilate others for thier own enjoyment simply b/c they can. With the continuing advancements of technology, it’s even more important that we as a society hold on to the basic principles of privacy and respect for others and our laws need to reflect that and hold the offenders accountable.

  2. carolyncastiglia says:

    I agree completely. Thanks for your comment.

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