Cyberbullying Case Summary: Fatal NJ University Incident
In 2010, Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi tragically jumped to his death after learning his roommate, Dharun Ravi, secretly recorded footage of him kissing another man, and then posted it online.
The State of New Jersey used bias intimidation laws to prosecute Ravi (State of New Jersey vs. Dharun Ravi) in the seminal cyberbullying case. In 2012, a court convicted him on 15 counts. Ravi “was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 3 years probation, 300 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine, and counseling on cyberbullying and alternate lifestyles.”
Judge Ordered Retrial
In 2015, however, New Jersey’s Supreme Court put an end to the state’s bias intimidation law, declaring it unconstitutional. The legal dominoes fell, and in 2016, an appeals court ordered a new trial, since four of Ravi’s counts stemmed from an unconstitutional edict.
Despite the decision, judges in the cyberbullying case emphatically condemned Ravi’s actions and presented an emotional opprobrium:
“The social environment that transformed a private act of sexual intimacy into a grotesque voyeuristic spectacle must be unequivocally condemned in the strongest possible way. The fact that this occurred in a university dormitory, housing first-year college students, only exacerbates our collective sense of disbelief and disorientation.”
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