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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 44
Rutgers cyber-spying defendant pleads guilty, gets plea deal
Section One
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Rutgers cyber-spying defendant pleads guilty, gets plea deal

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

It was one of the most talked-about death-by-suicide cases of all time. For whatever reason, when 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a freshman in his first weeks at Rutgers, ended his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September of 2010, his story struck a chord with the American people.

Dharun Ravi secretly recorded Clementi kissing another man and showed it to other students while the two were roommates at Rutgers. The invasion of privacy and sharing of his sexual orientation against his wishes is said to be what pushed Clementi to suicide.

Mainstream media reported on Clementi's suicide, more attention was paid to LGBTQ college students who had been targets of bullying students - and for the most part ignored - and donations and support began to pour into organizations, like The Trevor Project, that aid young people that might be suicidal.

Now, six years later, his tormentor, the ex-roommate who violated his privacy and 'outed' him at Rutgers University, has accepted a plea deal and will serve zero jail time. On Thursday, inside Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick, N.J., Ravi pleaded guilty to attempted invasion of privacy.

Ravi had been convicted of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy, but a New Jersey appeals court overturned the conviction in September and ordered a new trial.

Ravi cut a plea deal and was sentenced to probation and time already served on Thursday. Ravi had served 30 days in jail from the sentence from the original case.

Judge Joseph Paone said Ravi, an information technology worker in New York City, has demonstrated that he has lived a 'law-abiding life for a substantial amount of time.'

'His youth and immaturity did not provide him with the tools necessary to help him understand the consequences of his actions,' Paone said. 'He did not consider his conduct would cause serious emotional harm to Mr. Clementi.'

'He just wants to disappear,' Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, said outside the courtroom.

Clementi's parents, Joe and Jane, said in a statement that witnesses of cyber-bullying 'need to stand up for victims like Tyler who can't stand up for themselves.

'We call on all young people and parents to think about their behavior and not be bystanders to bullying, harassment, or humiliation,' the statement said. 'Interrupt it, report it, and reach out to victims to offer support. If this had happened in Tyler's case, our lives might be very different today.'

In the wake of their son's death, Clementi's parents founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation, an organization that seeks to prevent bullying through inclusion, assertion of dignity, and acceptance, as a way to honor the memory of Tyler Clementi, a son, a brother and a friend. Go to www.tylerclementi.org for more information.

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