Dharun Ravi is the Rutgers student who used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi. When Clementi committed suicide by throwing himself off the George Washington Bridge, the tragedy became a morality play. It was widely reported that Ravi had posted a video of the closeted Clementi having sex, and thus outed him and drove him to take his own life. Shy and a talented violinist, Clementi became a national symbol of anti-gay bullying. “Something must be done,” declared Ellen DeGeneres.
The prosecutors have duly done something: After he refused to admit guilt in a plea deal, they have thrown the book at Ravi, who could face ten years in prison if convicted in a trial that has just begun. They are pursuing Ravi to the utmost despite the unraveling of the tidy black-and-white story that rightly outraged people at the time of Clementi’s death. In a long, nuanced account of the case in The New Yorker, Ian Parker reports that the initial narrative about the tragedy was entirely erroneous: “There was no posting, no observed sex, and no closet.”