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Tyler Clementi Tragedy: Lessons For Parents

Dharun Ravi – the 20 year-old who was convicted last week for spying on his former Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, with a webcam – has finally...

Dharun Ravi – the 20 year-old who was convicted last week for spying on his former Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, with a webcam – has finally spoken to the press. And as a parent, I feel more conflicted about this case than ever.

This was never a straightforward case from the get-go. As Ian Parker’s remarkably detailed article in The New Yorker pointed out, there was no question that Ravi used his webcam to spy on Clementi while the latter was engaged in a sexual encounter with a man in their shared room at Rutgers. And there was also no question that Ravi had invited others to join in on a (failed) second viewing of another, similar encounter and then destroyed electronic evidence ex post.

What was never fully established was how much this incident drove Clementi to kill himself by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge the next day (as opposed to pre-existing mental health issues). Nor was it clear whether homophobia was what drew Ravi to invade his roommate’s privacy in the first place.

Like many, I was fascinated by this story from its inception. For starters, Clementi attended my public high school in suburban New Jersey – Ridgewood High – where many of my childhood friends now send their kids. So I always felt a personal connection to the case.

Read the rest of this post on The Washington Post’s She The People blog


Image: 1 in 3 Teens by Tayrawr Fortune via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  1. Michael Tubridy March 25, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    You write that the reasons were not entirely clear why Ravi never took the stand in his own defense. There was every reason for him not to do so. His justification–that he was not homophobic or intended any harm to Clementi–was stated in his video interrogation by police. Jurors could hear that for themselves. Having him say the same thing on the stand would not only have been superfluous, but would have exposed him to a devastating cross-examination in which prosecutors would ask why he had invited friends to view Clementi’s second sexual encounter. Contrary to the defense’s contention, I don’t think that being stupid and immature is mutually exclusive from being mean to the point of criminality.

    • delialloyd March 25, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Hi Mike and thanks for weighing in. I agree with you that there is no logical inconsistency and I think that in fact he was both stupid and criminal. Yes, he would have been subject to a withering cross. But I think it would have also made him seem less guilty. By not talking, you always wonder what someone has to hide, whether it’s superfluous testimony or not. Just my impression as a layperson, but there it is.

  2. Hemant B April 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Criminality .. I disagree. I was hazed (or ragged as it was called back home in India) more severely, and still after 32 years have not forgotten it. But never did I considered suicide. I just went to my local guardians, talked it over, complained to warden and just refocused on other things. What was done to me was really mean, very intimidating, but I was never touched. I could have left, I just did not have the balls to do so.

    If we begin to prosecute teenagers for acts that forms part of growing up, we are going to put a whole lot of people in prisons. Perhaps, the very ones who are bold and more likely (note necessarily all of them) to grow up as CEOs, entrepreneurs and leaders (DSK!).


    • delialloyd April 3, 2012 at 6:48 am #

      Thanks for your input, Hemant. It’s a really tough call, and, like you, I began to wonder what the right justice would be in this case. I think the “spying” issue is pretty straightforwardly criminal, the question is whether any of the rest of it was and if it was intentional at the scale implied. Really appreciate your dropping by to add your two cents.

  3. Hemant B April 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    pardon me for some typos…

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