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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dorm Webcam Suicide Case: Updating The Defense

Some new details emerged late this week on the criminal case against Dharan Ravi, the Rutgers University freshman indicted for alleged misuse of a laptop webcam to distribute video of fellow freshman Tyler Clementi's romantic same-sex encounter in their shared dorm room.

Crime, Politics and Policy expressed skepticism about the wisdom of prosecutors' pursuit of a criminal case way back in October 2010, just weeks after Clementi's suicide, and was at the forefront on questions about the "other man" in the affair in another October 2010 article.  This blog also was early in bucking the popular trend to criticize the rush to judgment in this case.  

Among the details is the revelation that Tyler Clementi was unhappy in perceiving his mother as not being supportive of -- or rejecting altogether -- him after he revealed his homosexuality.  That is an interesting twist.  It is likely that the real -- and unspoken -- reason behind the investigation and prosecution of Dharan Ravi and his friend Molly Wei (who plead guilty to minor charges earlier this year and got a non-custodial sentence) is that Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge, and by gosh, someone just has to pay for that and blaming two other students for his death is considered to be acceptable collateral damage. 

As I opined way back in September 2010, days after the tragedy, where were the people closest to Tyler when he needed them? 

And why did Tyler Clementi's mother -- knowing that she was not supportive of her own son's sexuality -- not come forward and stop the mad rush to judgment regarding Dharan Ravi and Molly Wei?  Why did she allow politically-ambitious prosecutors (pandering to a key political constituency) the moral high ground to ruin the lives of two very young people?  

Where was Mom?

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