This story breaks my heart.
A Rutgers first-year reportedly committed suicide last week after his roommate used a webcam to secretly capture and broadcast video of him having “a sexual encounter” with another man in their dorm room.
The roommate, Dharun Ravi, is said to have made the video available for others to view online and then bragged about the incident on Twitter:
“Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
Ravi posted that first tweet on a public Twitter account on September 19. On September 21 he announced that he planned to use the webcam to broadcast his roommate a second time, and invited his 148 followers to watch with him:
“Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.”
(This tweet has been erroneously reported as “don’t you dare video chat me.” My text is taken from Google’s cache of the now-deleted account.)
On September 23 his roommate, who has not been publicly identified, reportedly jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi and his alleged accomplice Molly Wei have been charged with multiple counts of invasion of privacy, each of which carries a possible five-year prison term.
2:30 pm Update | The dead student has been identified by multiple news sources as Tyler Clementi, age 18. A representative of Clementi’s family confirms that he and Ravi were roommates at Rutgers.
2:45 Update | Early reports suggested that Ravi faced a maximum five-year prison term, but the Newark Star-Ledger now reports, he could be sentenced to as much as thirteen years behind bars if convicted on all the charges that have so far been brought against him..
9:00 Update | Tyler Clementi’s family has released a statement:
“Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician. The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve their great loss and that their privacy at this painful time be respected by all. The family and their representatives are cooperating fully with the ongoing criminal investigations of two Rutgers University students.”