Tyler Clementi is thought to have jumped off of a bridge because his college roommate, Dharun Ravi, set up a webcam in his room and streamed him engaging in sexual activity with a male friend. Clementi reportedly requested the use of their shared room and was filmed by his roommate who remotely activated his webcam from friend Molly Wei's dorm room. Ravi attempted to film Clementi and his date on another occasion but was thwarted when the victim unplugged Ravi's computer and webcam after he had left the room.
Gawker reports that Ravi tweeted (account deleted) about the secret recordings and then streamed them to his friends via iChat. Ravi faces up to five years in jail for invading Tyler's privacy.
Tyler is thought to have killed himself shortly after seeking advice from an online community for gay people. A user posting under the "cit2mo" name revealed to other posters that his roommate had spied on him using a webcam activated from a friend's room. Cit2mo goes on to say it would be nice to get him into trouble but because he wasn't recording anything (just streaming), he's not sure if he has enough to warrant a reprimand from the school. Despite assurances from other board members that what his roommate did was illegal, Tyler seems to have little faith that his roommate will be punished for his actions. He also implies that his roommate's actions were validated by their peers after Dharun's friends posted comments like, "How did you go back in there," and "Are you okay?"
Later the next day, Tyler posted that his roommate had tried to film him again but that he had unplugged everything before his friend arrived for their date. Tyler said that he went straight to the RA about the problem and that the RA asked for a paragraph explaining what had happened in writing. This was Tyler's last post in the thread and a spokesperson for his family confirmed that he last week ended his life by jumping into the Hudson River.
Though it's not clear if Dharun and his friend's actions led to Tyler's death, what they did was still illegal and Dharun was released on $25,000 bail on Tuesday. Both Wei and Ravi have been charged with invasion of privacy and Ravi has been charged with two addition counts of invasion of privacy. The Wall Street Journal reports that, under New Jersey law, it is a fourth-degree crime to collect or view images of someone nude or engaged in sexual contact without their consent, and it is a third-degree crime to distribute those images.
*Image via Gawker
- Gawker – The Tragic Story of Tyler Clementi, Rutgers' Webcam Voyeurism Victim
- Wall Street Journal - Suicide Follows a Secret Webcast