A grand jury in Middlesex County, New Jersey, handed down a 15-count indictment on Wednesday charging former Rutgers University freshman, Dharun Ravi, with bias intimidation and other charges connected to his roommate Tyler Clementi’s suicide.
Ravi and an alleged accomplice, Molly Wei, were accused of secretly filming Clementi during a same-sex encounter in his dorm room and live streaming the video online. The next day, on September 22, apparently distraught over the streaming of the video, 18-year-old Clementi, a talented violinist from New Jersey, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River.
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The bias intimidation charge suggests, as prosecutors alleged, Ravi targeted Clementi specifically because he was gay.
Clementi’s suicide, along with a string of other teens and young adults who took their lives last fall after being bullied for being gay (or because their classmates suspected they were gay), inflamed a national conversation aimed at preventing bullying.
Prosecutors alleged Ravi not only invaded his roommate’s privacy, but tried to cover it up. In addition to bias intimidation, Ravi was also charged with witness and evidence tampering for allegedly destroying evidence and sending false tweets in an effort to throw off investigators. He previously faced invasion of privacy charges along with Wei.
According to the local news site My Central Jersey, which covers Middlesex County, Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman of New Brunswick, declined to discuss the indictment this morning, saying he had yet to see it.
Clementi’s parents, Joe and Jane Clementi, released this statement regarding the charges:
“The grand jury indictment spells out cold and calculated acts against our son Tyler by his former college roommate. If these facts are true, as they appear to be, then it is important for our criminal justice system to establish clear accountability under law. We are eager to have the process move forward for justice in this case and to reinforce the standards of acceptable conduct in our society.”
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