Student in webcam suicide case 'unfazed' by sexuality

Student in webcam suicide case 'unfazed' by sexuality

Summary: The case of a student who is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate who later committed suicide has raised more questions concerning technology and bullying.

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A core witness in the case against a student who allegedly spied on a homosexual roommate's sexual encounter, after which the victim committed suicide, apparently had no problem with his roommate's sexual orientation.

Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, 19, is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, days before Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

The webcam was set up in 2010, and streamed Clementi and his encounter with another man. It resulted in some of the footage being shown to other students at the university, consequentially inviting gossip and rumour concerning Clementi. He committed suicide three days later.

A key witness in the case, Molly Wei, testified in a New Jersey court on Monday that she agreed to keep the incident secret as it was shocking to see the images -- although the incident soon spread through the dorm and online. Wei was part of a group of students who viewed Clementi and another man kissing 'for a few seconds' on her computer.

"First of all, it was shocking. It felt wrong. We didn't expect to see that. And now that what we did, it was like we shouldn't have seen it," Wei told jurors. "We didn't want people to know what had happened."

Wei also mentioned that Ravi knew his roommate was homosexual, but 'didn't make a big deal out of it'.

According to Wei, Ravi never intended to humiliate his roommate. It was said that as Clementi's date did not appear to be a Rutgers student, Rai believed his iPad would be stolen -- and therefore set up the webcam after Clementi asked for their shared dorm for a few hours.

Prosecutors accuse Ravi of intentionally spying on his roommate and intimidating him due to to his sexual orientation. The defense state that Ravi acted childishly but did not commit a criminal offence.

Ravi currently faces 15 criminal charges, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and witness & evidence tampering. In exchange for 300 hours of community service, Wei has avoided being charged with two accounts of privacy invasion.

The student is not charged with causing Clementi's death, but the high-profile case has raised a number of questions about bullying and its evolving, technological methods, teenage suicide and privacy concerns -- an issue which is becoming more serious, and in which our current legal systems are struggling to keep up with.

Image credit: Juan Pablo Olmo

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17 comments
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  • Riiiiiiiight

    He did it to protect his iPad from being stolen!? Wouldn't it have been easier to just take the iPad with him.
    clcrockett
    • Pro Tip

      I'm sure the prosecution shredded that defense in about 2 seconds flat.

      Pro tip: If you [i]don't[/i] intend on humiliating someone, don't secretly record that someone's sexual encounters and post it on the internet for the world to see. Even if you think your iPad is in jeopardy during the two-hour period where the last thing on that someone's mind is an iPad.
      WarhavenSC
    • That depends

      on where Ravi was at during this taping - was he somewhere where he could have taken his iPad and been able to keep it secure? If he went out for a few drinks or was seeking some entertainment of his own maybe he didn't see the need to carry his iPad around and I could understand wanting to keep an eye on his personal possessions. I've had items stolen from me before by a roommate's friend - in my case a roommate's psycho ex girlfriend - so I see where Ravi is coming from. The question now becomes - again as I have not really followed the story - did Ravi know his roommate was going to hook up that night? If he did then the whole "wanting to keep an eye on my iPad" defense is a bit weak.
      athynz
      • Wrong question

        It doesn't matter if he did or didn't know if his roommate was going to hook up. It doesn't even matter if he really thought someone would steal his iPad. You just don't spy on others.
        It's pretty pathetic that you see the word "iPad" and immediately leap to this ahole's defense. We all know you like your Apple stuff, give it a break.
        radleym
      • lock box

        It's called a lock box. It's not uncommon for dorm dwellers to have a lock box for their valuables.
        kraabeasa
      • The defense is weak all right.

        How do you think people secured their valuable possessions before this technology made it possible for just about anybody to spy on others?

        Decent people don't record people without their knowledge and consent, and they certainly don't encourage others to partake in the recording.

        They should throw the book at this loser.
        sissy sue
      • @radleym

        Dude are you seriously this much of a tool? Are you really going to use some sort of pathetic fanboism attack to try to make some obscure point? Fine, bring it. Point by point: [b]

        Wrong question[/b]

        Oh really? How is that - without all the FUD laced fanboism you like to spew[b]

        It doesn't matter if he did or didn't know if his roommate was going to hook up. It doesn't even matter if he really thought someone would steal his iPad. You just don't spy on others.[/b]

        Tell THAT to the US Government, to Microsoft, Apple, Google... yeah I included Apple. An unfortunate reality is that one does have to on occasion spy on others as distasteful as that prospect may be. CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, MI6, KGB... Tell me something do you consider the camera installed at banks, at retail stores, at office buildings to be spying on others? I don't - I see that as a security precaution which may have been Ravi's intent... [b]

        It's pretty pathetic that you see the word "iPad" and immediately leap to this ahole's defense. [/b]

        No the truly pathetic thing is that you automatically try this reverse fanboi crap on me for asking a common sense question and backing it up with my own personal experience. And I'm going to assume that you did not even bother to read my post as I said that if Ravi did know his roomie was going to hook up then the "wanting to keep an eye on my iPad" defense is weak... but let me guess you had your tail wagging at the chance to talk smack about me because I disagree with you. What an Ahole.[b]

        We all know you like your Apple stuff, give it a break.[/b]

        Honestly who cares if it was an iPad, a Xoom, a Nook, or a family heirloom that was worth nothing financially but priceless in sentimental value - IF Ravi's intent was to keep an eye on it via webcam and not catch his roomie in an intimate moment then his motives are fully understandable. IF his intent was to film his roomie and his partner in an intimate moment then yes that Ahole deserves to be buried under the jail.

        But this has one damned thing to do with someone owning Apple tech or not owning Apple tech - as you wish to believe. Grow up radleym.
        athynz
  • No Evidence of Recording

    As far as I've read there is no evidence that the streaming video of the kissing incident was "recorded" and posted. It seems that Clementi was far more devastated over his mother's reaction to his "outing" than over the streaming video. We'll never really know why Clementi took his own life. It was tragic. But destroying Ravi's life with a prison sentence over his juvenile prank won't bring Clementi back.
    lewisedge
    • How naive you may be.

      Once it leaves the webcam all bets are off as you no longer have control of it. If it streams who's to say that the device that it's being viewed on can't and isn't recording it? Once it's recorded (or posted) there's no getting it back, deleting it, dismissing it period. Wiretap laws may have been broken if audio was also transmitted/recorded.

      The bottom line is that had he NOT been recorded he would probably be still alive today.
      dave01234
  • Evidence of Recording

    Just in and it does seeem it was recorded and posted.

    "A Rutgers University student says a former dorm mate who is charged with using a webcam to spy on his roommate encouraged her and other students to tune in.

    Alissa Agarwal told jurors on Tuesday that she remembers Dharun Ravi sending a Twitter message daring friends to try to video chat with him the night his roommate asked to have their room to himself. Agarwal says Ravi went to her room and showed her how his camera was set up to show his roommate's side of his room."
    Teako
    • intentional

      So it was spying on his room mate not protecting his stuff, throw away the key like with drunk drivers.
      dragonblack
      • If it was intentional

        Then I completely agree he should be locked up and treated as a murderer. A check of his Twitter account should provide the evidence to back up the witness.
        athynz
  • lmfao

    Lmfao who cares about gays killing themselves! If it was a straight guy nobody would have said anything. Fk fags
    Jimster480
    • Why?

      Why do you need to interject with your nonsense??? It's your very attitude that made the kid want to kill himself.

      If it were a straight guy? Well, if it had been a straight encounter, the guy wouldn't have been so intimidated because of social bias.

      Why don't you use your webcam, record all your darkest secrets, and post them online. Then you can understand the difference.
      lelandhendrix@...
    • I'm glad someone flagged this garbage

      Otherwise I would have. It's one thing to have a difference of opinion but Jimster480 is a complete _douchebaggy Ahole.

      Perhaps you don't get it but this is someone's life - who really cares if that person is gay or straight. What difference does it make? lelandhendrix said it well - it's YOUR type of attitude that makes someone different want to kill themselves.
      athynz
    • This is not YouTube

      I was going to be reply number one, but decided to hold back to see how the "community" responded.

      OSX or Win8, Ubuntu or SUSE, iOS or Android, douche bag is what douche bag is.

      You might get away with this crap on YouTube, where pre-teen trolls terrorize the discussion, but here there are at least a few adults, and your brand of crap will hopefully be not only not tolerated, but garner no community support.

      And this comment will shadow you around the boards here for some time to come.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • Easy Case

    For the Prosecution..
    You see, lets say that he (defendant) was in fact protecting his assets. The prosecution's argument would be that he could have deleteing the video or images after he came back and realized that his Ipad WASN"T stolen. Then nobody would know about him being gay and he wouldn't have killed himself.
    jabgonzo@...