On September 22, 2010, The Rutgers University Campus experienced a shocking and devastating event. Tyler Clementi, whom at the time was an 18 year freshman, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge and into the Hudson River after he gained knowledge that his roommate had spied on a sexual encounter that he engaged in with another man.
Apparently Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, had placed a web camera facing Tyler’s bed after being asked by Tyler to have the room to himself for a little while. While Dharun Ravi claimed he had initially set up the camera because he did not trust Tyler’s company, he and another student watched the video and made comment online about it. This incident happened twice. During the first encounter Dharun tweeted, “roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went to Molly’s room and saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” The second incident came two days later when he tweeted again, “I dare anyone with iChat to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again.” The next day is when Tyler committed suicide after posting a Facebook message stating, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."
New Jersey has enacted a law that states that if you secretly record (someone engaged in an intimate act) with a webcam or with any other kind of video and self broadcast device that without that persons permission, that is a crime." Before this case, in every other place else in America up until this law was enacted, you could only sue somebody for civil damages for the embarrassment, but you weren't facing jail time. New Jersey, on the hand, is taking the imitative to say this is criminal and can be charged as such.
Since this horrible event occurred, Duhrun Ravi and the girl whom participated in some of the events, Molly Wei, are both facing multiple charges. Instead of facing the two counts of invasion of privacy, Molly took a plea agreement that required she testify against Dharun, complete a three year program on cyber bullying, and three hundred hours of community service. Dharun was also offered a plea agreement. The prosecutors of Middlesex County offered him a plea deal that avoided jail time if he attended counseling, disposed of all information identified the man that was on camera with Tyler. They even offered to help him avoid deportation since he is studying on a visa, though they made it clear they could not guarantee it. Dharun turned down that plea agreement and at the age of twenty, has now been charged with and found guilty of witness tampering, invasion of privacy, hate crime, hindering apprehension, tampering with physical evidence and bias intimidation. He is now facing possibly up to ten years in jail and maybe deportation back to his native (India).
After the verdict was read Tyler Clementi’s father, Joe Clemnti made a statement to the students/kids around the world, saying, “When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell him. That's not right. Stop it. You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you.” Duhrun Ravi goes to be sentenced on May 21, 2012, but his lawyer said they do plan to appeal.
Ariosto, David, and InSession's Jim Kyle. "Guilty Verdict in Rutgers Webcam Spying Case - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/16/justice/new-jersey-rutgers-trial/index.html>.
Solomon, Nancy. "Ex-Rutgers Student Charged For Spying On Roommate." NPR. NPR, 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://www.npr.org/2012/03/16/148774079/rutgers-student-charged-after-spying-on-roommate>.