Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers student who committed suicide just days after two classmates secretly taped him during a sexual encounter with a man and broadcast it over the Web is the latest case to spark up conversations on the severity of cyberbullying.
Last week, footage of Clementi engaging in sexual contact in his dorm room was shown on the Internet by his roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi. Ravi had turned on the webcam in the dorm room without Clementi knowing after Clementi asked to have the room to himself for a certain period of time.
Paul Mainardi, the Clementi family’s attorney, confirmed Wednesday that Clementi jumped off of the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 23. A body believed to be Clementi’s has been recovered from the river, police said Wednesday.
As with many cases of cyberbullying, social networking played a key part in the ordeal. Ravi tweeted ” “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” A day later, he invited more people to view more footage, as he said “Yes its happening again.”
According to the Associated Press, Clementi left a status update on his Facebook page on Sept. 22 saying “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
Parry Aftab, an Internet Safety Expert and attorney, joined Matt Lauer on The Today Show Thursday to discuss the circumstances surrounding Clementi’s death.
So far, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, who was with Ravi when he surreptitiously taped Clementi, have been charged with invasion of privacy and face up to five years in prison. Aftab said it is unlikely that Ravi and Wei will face more severe charges.