In 2010, Tyler Clementi’s suicide rocked the nation with the intrinsic details of a romantic relationship, a friend’s betrayal and privacy leak. It brought once again in focus teenager problems and the sky-rocketing issue of teen suicide. Two years later the Tyler Clementi case is back in focus over digital evidence.
On Friday, Dharun Ravi was convicted of leading to Tyler Clementi’s death after spying on his relationship with another man and talking about it on Twitter. Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi were sharing a dorm room at the Rutgers University. If for so long, prosecutors didn’t have the evidence to directly accuse Dharun Ravi of causing his roommate’s death, a more in depth look at the online part of the case convinced the jury of his liability.
Everything was taken into account. From Twitter feeds to Facebook posts, online conversations and even text messages all piled up to show the jury that Dharun Ravi played a significant part in causing Tyler Clementi’s suicide.
For the jury it was clear that Dharun Ravi was consciously being cruel with his roommate. Ms. Audet, member of the jury, said that what convinced her was the fact that Ravi went on to tweet about his roommate’s private life and tried a second time to record his encounters. “A reasonable person would have closed it and ended it there, not tweeted about it” she said.
The jury also looked into evidence that showed Tyler Clementi was feeling bullied and intimidated because of his sexual orientation. However, Dharun Ravi’s lawyer attempted to alleviate the situation by pointing out that his client did sent his apologies and read statements that his client was ok with homosexuality. The jury read beyond Ravi’s apologies to find that he was just covering his trails.
Basically, the apologies came in to late, as Tyler Clementi had already decided for suicide. He updated his Facebook status saying “jumping of the gw bridge sorry”.
The Tyler Clementi case brings once again back in focus the bully phenomena and its crossing to the digital environment. Ms. Audet with the jury said referring to other teenagers: “I hope they use their heads and think before they do this. Text messages, tweets, e-mails, iChats are never gone. Be careful…Unfortunately, Dharun, he’s learning the lesson a very hard way”.