A grand jury has indicted a former Rutgers University student on several counts of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy after he allegedly used a webcam to spy on his roommate during an intimate encounter with another man. His roommate later committed suicide.
The 15-count indictment against 19-year-old Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, N.J., was delivered by a Middlesex County grand jury Wednesday. The charges include invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, evidence and witness tampering as well as hindering apprehension or prosecution.
The charges stemmed from the suicide of his Rutgers dormitory roommate, 21-year-old Tyler Clementi in September 2010.
Ravi's lawyer stated the video from the webcam was only viewable from one computer and did not show Clementi and the other male student having sex. However, Ravi did post on his Twitter page a link his followers could click on to view the livestream.
Ravi later deleted the post and asked potential witnesses to not testify against him, leading the grand jury to indict Ravi on three counts of tampering with evidence and one count of witness tampering.
Clementi jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010 just days after Ravi updated his Twitter account, admitting to friends that he along with fellow Rutgers student Molly Wei enabled a webcam to spy on his roommate who had asked for some privacy.
Charges against Wei will be present to a grand jury at a later time.
In response to Wednesday's indictment, the Clementi family issued a statement, expressing their eagerness to move forward in the case where seeking justice for their son was their main priority.
"The grand jury indictment spells out cold and calculated acts against our son Tyler by his former college roommate," the statement read. " If these facts are true, as they appear to be, then it is important for our criminal justice system to establish clear accountability under law."
Late last year, the Clementi filed legal notice to sue Rutgers for what they felt was a failure to act accordingly in the case of their son. In the notice, the couple said Rutgers "failed to put in place and/or failed to implement, and enforce policies and practices that would have prevented or deterred such acts" from happening.
Both Ravi and Wei dropped out of Rutgers after Clementi committed suicide. They were high school friends who had just started their freshman year at the university.
Clementi's death also raised national awareness about bullying and suicide among gay youths.
Since his death, Rutgers implemented a new gender-neutral program that would allow gay, lesbian and transgender students to select the gender of their roommate. Under the program, heterosexual students would also be permitted to dorm with students of the opposite sex.
University officials are hoping that the move will make the campus more inclusive for gay students.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times