Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The parents of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi — who committed suicide after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him and a male lover — have decided not to sue anyone, choosing instead to focus their attention on a foundation named after their son.
Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010.
His roommate, Dharun Ravi, was convicted in March of 15 counts of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy in connection with his use of a webcam to spy on Clementi. Ravi, who spent 20 days in jail, is appealing the conviction.
Clementi’s parents, Joseph and Jane Clementi of Ridgewood, N.J., had indicated they would sue the university for failing to take steps to prevent the suicide.
They’ve now decided not to sue the school or Ravi, attorney Paul Mainardi said Friday. Rather, the family will put its energy into the Tyler Clementi Foundation, he said.
“They simply decided they didn’t want to file a suit,” Mainardi said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“The bottom line is they went through an obviously difficult period, then incredible media pressure because of the way this story became viral,” he said. The parents have “moved to a place where they are interested in positive, constructive work through the foundation and are not interested in recovering any money.”
The Clementi case became a major focus of celebrities and others fighting against school bullying, which often targets young gays. It also brought attention to cyberbullying and the way in which technological advances can be used to spy on people.
On Sept. 19, 2010, Ravi used a webcam to spy on Clementi, who was kissing a man in a dormitory room at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The image was transmitted from the room Ravi shared with Clementi to another student’s computer in the dorm. Clementi found out about the spying through Twitter and jumped to his death days later.
Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi’s death, but Clementi’s family argued that Ravi’s behavior was a factor in the suicide.
After the suicide, Rutgers changed some of its policies to make gay and lesbian students more comfortable. The Tyler Clementi Foundation has been a co-sponsor of an academic conference at Rutgers on social media.
The Clementis and the university have been talking about more joint programs, but there is no agreement, Mainardi said.