Social Media, Gay Rights Issues Surround NJ Student Suicide Trial


Dharun Ravi, the ex-Rutgers University student charged in the case involving Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide, will be subject to two very different judgments, in and out of the courtroom, says the Somerville (NJ) Courier News. “There is the trial of public opinion and there is the legal trial that will go on in the Superior Court,” said attorney Edward Weinstein. “The entire public can and has weighed in on this on an international level.” The trial is scheduled to start today.

Ravi is charged with 14 counts, including various degrees of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence, hindering apprehension or prosecution, and witness tampering. Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in 2010. Presumably, Clementi was reacting to the alleged social-media outing of his sexuality and the live video stream taken by Ravi of Clementi’s encounter with another man, only known as M.B., in the dorm room Ravi and Clementi shared. The incident sparked international outrage concerning cyberbullying and gay-teen suicide. Noting that it is a difficult case to prosecute, Weinstein said prosecutors are under pressure to “go for it” because of national attention. He explained that what makes the case so attractive to the media and the world is its connection to gay rights.

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