Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi’s death, but he faces a possible sentence of ten years in jail.
If Ravi accepted the plea offer, he would serve no more than five years. Ravi said yes, in an unexpectedly high voice, and gave a reflexive smile. On a Saturday night in August, 2010, a week before starting college, Dharun Ravi decided to look online for his future Rutgers roommate. Ravi, who was planning to major in math and economics, had learned that he had been assigned to Davidson Hall—a collection of single-story, barracks-like dorms on Busch campus, which is considered the dullest of the four Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick and neighboring Piscataway.He would be in Davidson Hall C, a coed dorm for about eighty students. Ravi had found some of Keybowvio’s posts on a Yahoo forum: something about fish tanks, Ravi told Tam, and something else “pertaining to violins.” If, with “pertaining,” Ravi was aiming for sly disdain, Tam struck a different note: “I’m calling it now. ” (“What a pussy,” Tam wrote.) Ravi and Tam also found questions about anti-virus software and contributions to a Web site of counter-revolutionary peevishness called Anythingbutipod.In fact, there was no posting, no observed sex, and no closet.But last spring, shortly before Molly Wei made a deal with prosecutors, Ravi was indicted on charges of invasion of privacy (sex crimes), bias intimidation (hate crimes), witness tampering, and evidence tampering.Clementi’s story also became linked to the It Gets Better project—an online collection of video monologues expressing solidarity with unhappy or harassed gay teens.
The site was launched the day before Clementi’s death, in response to the suicide, two weeks earlier, of Billy Lucas, a fifteen-year-old from Indiana who, for years, had been called a “fag” and told vicious things, including “You don’t deserve to live.” That October, President Barack Obama taped an It Gets Better message, referring to “several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives.”It became widely understood that a closeted student at Rutgers had committed suicide after video of him having sex with a man was secretly shot and posted online.Clementi’s death became an international news story, fusing parental anxieties about the hidden worlds of teen-age computing, teen-age sex, and teen-age unkindness.ABC News and others reported that a sex tape had been posted on the Internet.CNN claimed that Clementi’s room had “become a prison” to him in the days before his death.Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese company that turns tabloid stories into cartoons, depicted Ravi and Wei reeling from the sight of Clementi having sex under a blanket. Hold on to your dreams and always strive to achieve your goals.