Lawyers For Students Who Broadcast Tyler Clementi’s Intimate Encounter Claim No Sexual Contact On Webcam Video

Lawyers and friends of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, the two former Rutgers students (they both withdrew from the school late last week) who filmed Tyler Clementi's intimate encounter with another man intimate before the freshman student took his own life, have announced that there was no sex or nudity involved in the webcam broadcast. They also claim that the video was only viewed from one computer: Wei's.

The Star-Ledger reports:

"I’m unaware of any evidence of sexual contact," said Rubin Sinins, Wei’s attorney. "The statute defining sexual contact refers to nudity and private parts, and, to my knowledge, nothing like that was seen. I’m also unaware of any evidence that any video was recorded, reproduced or disseminated in any way." Law enforcement officials declined to discuss the case because it is still under investigation. Prosecutors are considering whether to upgrade the charges against Ravi and Wei to bias crimes because Clementi was gay.

The article also includes accounts from friends of the duo: "She said, 'Dharun came in to my room and turned on my computer to web chatting. We watched for two minutes," said Sean Yan, 18, a longtime friend. Wei told friends she saw Clementi and a male visitor kissing. She described the visitor as 'kind of sketchy,' with ragged clothes and a scruffy beard, Yan said. Later on the night of Sept. 19, Ravi used his Twitter account to tell friends that he and Wei had seen his roommate 'making out with a dude.' The feed went out to Ravi’s nearly 150 Twitter followers."


  1. Gene says

    Tyler is still dead because of those two idiots. No exoneration, no acceptable excuse can change the fact that they drove Tyler to suicide.
    Those two students need to be prosecuted for manslaughter.

  2. Brad says

    My response is so what? They still maliciously splashed images of Tyler kissing another man in private onto the internet. They showed it to friends and humiliated him for no cause but to be vicious. They are just as guilty of murder as if they had pushed Tyler off the bridge themselves. The lawyers are trying to play down the issue. I’m thinking this will only backfire on them as it shows they are guilty of displaying this video publicly.

  3. DougChgo says

    @Ron: I’ve wondered about that, too. Who was the guy Tyler was with? There has been almost no mention of him. This report was the first time I’ve read any kind of description. Maybe even wondering about it is inappropriate, given the circumstances.

  4. lodenmuse says

    Great justification for violating this man’s privacy and intimate moments: Since technically no nudity or genitals were broadcast, there isn’t “any evidence of sexual contact.”

    Who wrote these rules, Bristol Palin?

    (And really, if nothing was recorded, how can Wei’s attorney assert this? Oh–“…I’m unaware of any evidence of..” Nice spin.)

  5. walter says

    these two pieces of shit still won’t own up to what they did. i hope people never let them forget. maybe then they will learn what is like to taunted and bullied.

  6. JimSur212 says

    This is headed for a plea deal and a sentence of probation, which given the circumstances of this case is a just outcome. Many of us in the gay community hyped this into something that it wasn’t, because the narrative of gay bullying suits our very legitimate agenda. The only problem is that there is not a shred of evidence that this was bullying in any way. It appears to be a stupid college prank gone horribly wrong and, I might add, with completely unforeseen consequences. The fact that the victim of the prank was gay doesn’t make it bullying or homophobia. The roommates deserve to be held accountable FOR WHAT THEY DID. But, they DID NOT PUSH HIM OFF THE BRIDGE. Those who are suggesting an equivalency to their actions and Tyler’s death are ludicrous and acting like a lynch mob screaming for blood. This is neither a hate crime or manslaughter.

  7. Scrammy says

    @JIMSUR212: I think a broader definition of what entails bullying is in order here. Yes, they did not push him off a bridge, nor did they shout homophobic slurs at him. However, they did publicly mock his sexuality. If the perpetrator’s room mate had been kissing a girl, do you think it would have been broadcast and followed up with a Twitter post saying “he was kissing a GIRL!”

    The truth is, we are still being mocked and humiliated and treated as jokes…something at which to laugh. It’s an act of intimidation. That is a form of bullying.

  8. David Kaufman says


    Couldn’t agree with you more. Tyler’s death is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy for his friends and family — not a “community” desperate for a misplaced martyr. Let’s save the hate-crimes accusations for bona fide hate crimes. As sad as it may seem, the only person responsible for Tyler Clementis’ death is Tyler Clementis. Let his actual community mourn in peace.

  9. ratbastard says

    This is going to attract the wrath of many on here,but I’ll say it anyway ’cause I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking it:

    …Maybe Tyler was embarrassed being seen with the type of guy he was seen with? I’m becoming more convinced this guy he hooked up with plays some kind of role in his decision to commit suicide. I’m becoming more convinced Tyler had some deep things going on in his life and mind [not just that he was gay, or external homophobia]. It would be interesting if this guy would come out in the light and speak up. There’s more to Tyler’s suicide than being ‘caught’ with a dude, or homophobia…these are not the real reasons why he killed himself IMO.

    …CUE frothing and ranting by the usual suspects.

    […AND NO, I didn’t say it was alright what his roommate did…]

  10. Dan says

    Using regular iChat, you can’t broadcast to tons of different people, just 1-3 others I think. If you have an AIM account and use it on iChat, there might be some other way to mass-stream it, like via USTREAM or something like that. But I think in this case, it was not broadcasting to tons of people at all. That doesn’t minimize the issue but still, it makes you wonder if Tyler Clementi knew this or not. In the end, we don’t know his exact motivation. I sure hope he didn’t choose to kill himself based on a faulty understanding of the technology.

  11. justiceontherocks says

    JIMSUR – I guess you don’t think “a stupid college prank gone horribly wrong” can amount to bullying? You must not have been to college.

    They don’t have to push him off the bridge to be responsible, at least in part. The law, and common sense, are very clear abotu that.

  12. says

    They deliberately humiliated him for sport, and now they are living with the consequences for the rest of their lives–whatever the legal outcome. I’m sure they didn’t intend for him to kill himself, but when you do damaging things to others, you can’t predict how they might react. The lesson that should be passed down to others is that you need to think before you bully or indulge in that “harmless prank.” If you wouldn’t like that done to you, don’t do it to anyone else. Because “I didn’t mean to” won’t add up to much after someone kills themselves in response to your actions. You’ll still have blood on your hands.

  13. Mark says

    I agree they deliberately humiliated Tyler. And while it may be true nothing intimate was shone, or that no one even saw it, how would Tyler have known that? Based on what I have read, here is aplausible scenerio. Tyler is a young man discovering himself in college. He somehow learns his room mate had filmed his personal encounters and the room mate has announced he is broadcasting these to the public. Tyler’s family and friends may not know he is gay. He is terrified and is not in an emotional or mental place to deal with the possible repercussions of this disclosure,so he feels he has no alternative but to take his own life. Straight people have NO IDEA what it is like to deal with being gay. Tyler’s personal life was violated. So the guy was “sketchy”, maybe Tyler was attracted to a “type”. WHO CARES. That totally misses the point. A talented young man is DEAD, and the catalyst for his death was the intrusive, immature, stupid and criminal actions of these two young people.

  14. Mlle Marple says

    Can Queens Think? I seriously wonder sometimes. Just as I suspected, having read Tyler’s justusboys postings, NO ONE SAW HIM HAVE SEX.

    Now why did TC take his own life?
    Might you all be asking Wei and Ravi to hang for the reactions of…

    a) the lover, who freaked out and rejected Tyler, who naïvely expected support

    b) the parents Clementi, who might have been more concerned for their reputation or grandparental hopes than Tyler’s state of mind or…

    c) Tyler himself, who might have had an overdelicate or ginger-histrionic personality problem?

    New evidence demands new attitudes.

  15. Larson says

    to be honest, i’m still hazy on what actually happened. from what i’ve read, i’ve gathered that tyler asked his roommate for privacy, roommate left the room with his ichat vid on, went to the girl’s room and watched, and then tweeted about what was going on? how would other people get access to the video? and how many accessed it?

    is that right? no mass ustream or coverage of what was going on?

    it was a series of unfortunate events (i’m not even sure i’d classify this as a prank) that led to a tragedy. not sure if i’d throw the book at the two kids question (certainly not the girl, and i don’t know enough about what the guy actually did).

  16. wbnyc says

    I’m embarrassed right now, hearing so many gay or gay-friendly people saying, “you know, as long as the guy who videotaped Tyler didn’t mean any harm, then, meh…let’s let him off the hook.”
    Tyler’s roommate videotaped him and broadcast it (i don’t care if it’s to 8 people or to 8000 people). That’s bullying. That’s not a prank, it’s not a goof, it’s not cute. It’s brutal. It’s outing a teenager WITH MALICE before that teenager was ready to come out.
    If we’re all in such a beautiful, understanding place for the perpetrator, and we think aww, it’s just a little prank … let’s have a moment of understanding for the victim, who had NO CHOICE. Who was publicly outed. Who was emotionally raped. Who had a SCARLET “Q” attached to his heart by an insensitive, violent, aggressor.
    And then he jumped.
    Anyone still defending the bully?

  17. says

    This is probably going to get me yelled at, but I’m still uncertain what Molly Wei actually did. A case can be made that Ravi inflicted intentional emotional harm (at the very least) by not only taping Clementi, but by then broadcasting that taping. Did Wei have something to do with the publication of that broadcast? Did she just watch along with Ravi and, presumably, a number of other viewers? Is it just because Ravi was in her room?

    I’m serious. So far, the only arguments I’ve heard are against Ravi’s actions. I have no idea what Wei’s being accused of in this other than having a questionable friend.

  18. JimSur212 says

    I don’t understand that posts here that suggest that Tyler’s suicide can be understood in the context of what happened to him. All of us here went through similar experiences or worse as young gay men AND WE DIDN’T JUMP OFF A FUCKING BRIDGE! And I’m sorry, but in no way do I remotely equate this story to the true bullying stories of 13, 14 and 15 year olds being terrorized everyday of their lives when they go to school. Giving this case moral equivalency dishonors those dead boys in their graves.

  19. Toto says

    He committed suicide, murder or manslaughter for these two is irrational and uncalled for. I think they should just fess up to what they did do and apologize for the effect of their actions publicly. Using these two as a tool to gain gay pride and a “we won’t be fucked with attitude” seems immoral to me.

  20. ted says

    Another factor is the lag time between the suicide and the “cause”. As I understand, he waited – who knows what he was exposed to in the interim. I agree with jimsur212 for th emost part.

  21. says

    This is a lie hidden in the truth. Initial reports of this story said what was on the hidden camera was Clementi making out with a guy. Then the media warped that into they were having sex.

  22. Mark says

    Tyler was killed by shame–the shame of homophobia most of us have dealt with our entire lives. The thought that his homosexuality had not only been revealed but broadcast to everyone–and that his family might find out/see it–was probably the last straw.

    Who cares if nothing happened sexually on the video–that’s inconsequential. Until gay people are no longer treated like social lepers and discriminated against just for who they are these kinds of suicides will continue to happen.

    We need to continue to fight for our rights and create a different reality for young gay people–one that won’t lead so many to such an untimely and tragic end.

  23. BlueMoon says

    @JimSur2127 What you don’t seem to understand is that just because some people who were bullied and got through it just fine, doesn’t mean everyone can. Props to you for sticking it out, but not everyone has the willpower like you. We don’t know how he was brought up and can’t gauge his emotional/mental stability.

    On top of that, only a few people are involved in the standard bullying cases. Clementi’s actions were broadcasted to at least 100 people, if not more. Which meant that his actions were pretty much known at school, seeing that gossip flys fast in the ‘net, and could potentially lead to massive bullying/rumor, etc.

    So if you were to put a value on that, Clementi’s case was a lot worse.

  24. anon says

    The lawyer’s statement is very carefully worded to work with what the law actually demands. To wit, the invasion of privacy has to be based on some aspect of life where privacy would be expected. They are not being charged with manslaughter or assault or infliction of emotional harm (technically a civil offense), and at this point there are no university actions pending because they quit the school (the reason for not making any statements until now was most likely because they wished to avoid university sanction, not legal sanction). The goal here is to get the prosecution to reduce the charges or drop them.

  25. ratbastard says

    Of course the lawyers are being slick, and carefully wording their statements for their clients benefit!


    Tyler was out so I don’t think some of the stuff you posted, including the premise that he was shamed, applies.

    There’s also no proof 100 or more people remotely watched Tyler in a private moment. It appears nothing was ever broadcast, and even then nothing beside kissing occurred in front of the camera. And Tyler, by his own words, was aware of the camera and what his roommate was trying to do.

    I’m in no way defending what his roommate and this chick did, but let’s get real.

    Again, IMO Tyler did not commit suicide for the reasons people think. Of course his suicide never the less is a terrible tragedy.

  26. Mark says

    I agree we will never know all of the reasons that caused Tyler to choose suicide as an answer to his problem. However, I can only imagine that a big part of it had to do with him being very hopeful and excited about a new life at college–and that his dream had been shattered by this one malicious act.

    I think it is a mistake to assume that just because a gay man comes out and admits he is gay that somehow he instantly develops a strong sense of self–and that everything he went through, struggled with, and endured is suddenly gone and replaced by a strong ego.

    Most of us gay men are survivors of severe emotional/physical abuse and mental cruelty–both from family members and the outside world. Many of us survive and make it into adulthood by distracting ourselves with things that validate us and make us feel good about ourselves–covering up a lot of ugly scars from the past in beautiful ways.

    I cannot speak for Tyler or any other gay man, but after almost 20+ years of being out I am still coming to terms with a lot of the abuse and shaming I went through as a kid. Like many men I figured I had come to terms with it and had shelved my past like some book I’d already read too many times.

    However, it is only now that I am fully understanding how what I went through (and didn’t deal with) as a young person shaped my adulthood and affected many of my life choices. Luckily none of those choices were suicide, but I know that I there have been times when I have felt overwhelming sadness and shame and believed there was no one out there who understood me–or who was worthy of my trust.

    Understanding that kind of loneliness and pain allows me to see why a young gay person could see ending their life as an answer–especially kids who don’t yet have the ability to really fully grasp the finality of their actions–or to see beyond the what they are going through at that moment.

    I think the best thing we can do is figure out is how to be be kinder to one another. I believe what moves us so much about these stories of these young boys is that we see in them the little boy we once were–and the little boy that is still within us–the one who has always just wanted to be loved, valued and cared for.

    The world has thrown so much ugliness and hatred at us–and yet instead of throwing it back we recycle it and end up throwing much of it at each other–or at ourselves through self-destructive behavior.

    Mainstream society is starting to look at itself–but I think we also need to starting looking at ourselves and how we end up becoming what we hate and bullying our gay brothers through our words and actions.

    I think if we do that we can truly say it WILL get better–even for us! :)

  27. Danny says

    To Mr Ehrenstein and others who are picking up on Tyler’s sex-bud’s appearance, “ragged clothes and scruffy beard” are “the look” on college campuses everywhere. Can you not see that from the pics of young men–straight and gay–all over the popular media? It’s a look that has nothing to do with class, socioeconomic status or the rest of it. And opposites attract–the scuffy dude was obviously attracted to Tyler’s more “clean” look too. How could people posting here along those lines not be aware of that? I could understand it among people of older generations, but not in the urban gay mainstream.

  28. Paul R says

    Here’s what I’ve learned about Tyler since this case began: almost nothing. He played violin. Just 3 of the 40 or so people in his dorm even knew who he was. This was the second time he’d asked his homophobic roommate to leave him alone in the room so he could mess around.

    We know nothing of his mental state, the role of the guy he was with, the role of the woman whose room his roommate went to, or myriad other things. His parents issued a strong statement of support, so they don’t seem like evil bigots who were going to disown their son, and we have no evidence that Tyler suffered any abuse as a result of this incident. He may have, but he may not have. I would guess most freshman at a well-regarded school wouldn’t care and had no interest in watching him make out with some guy. And we don’t even know how many people watched.

    Given how little we know, a rush to judgment on either side seems premature. But I agree that an 18-year-old out college student at a well-regarded school is not in any way comparable to a 13-year-old in a rural area who gets bullied and beaten mercilessly. If the two roommates didn’t get along, that should have been clear early on and one or both should have requested a room change or the floor/dorm RA should have intervened. I’m not blaming Tyler, but suicide is the worst possible thing you can do to the people who love you, to say nothing of yourself.

    But again, we don’t have anywhere near a full accounting of the facts. Yes the lawyer’s spin sounds awful, and Tyler’s privacy was clearly invaded. But to say his roommate “pushed him off the bridge” is absurd. He, an adult, made that decision. I had ROTC roommates my freshman year in college, and they weren’t thrilled to have a gay guy in their suite. But we worked it out, and I was 16 and anyone I messed around with had to go through their room to get to mine.

    The only thing we know for sure is that Tyler’s roommate was uncomfortable having a gay roommate messing around with other guys in their room. That makes him an asshole, but until we know more that hardly makes him a murderer. The guy Tyler was with is a huge missing piece of this puzzle.

  29. wimsy says

    “kind of sketchy” This from an elitist criminal who invaded a sensitive gay guy’s privacy and then humiliated him all over the Net? A year in a women’s prison will show her what “sketchy” means.

    BTW, defense lawyers are always “unaware” that their clients did anything wrong. What else would he say?

  30. Fenrox says

    Just not how it works guys. They did not kill Tyler, Tyler killed himself. While it is true that you shouldn’t actively make someone’s life worse, bullying is not a binary thing that when you are bullied you have to kill yourself.

    Yes they done fucked up, yes they need to be accountable, but not for his death. They need to volunteer with at-risk kids and get some life perspective. They did not kill Tyler and they should not be held responsible, they should be held responsible for being incredibly insensitive to a disastrous potential.

    If a kid kills himself after hearing morose lyrics do you hold the artist accountable? No, but that doesn’t mean that artist can’t help kids so that they don’t do that. You can’t stop assholes with assholes.

  31. ratbastard says


    …The description scruffy, ragged clothes, and sketchy allegedly came from the mouths of Clementi’s roommate and his chick friend. Now, I’m aware of how common being scruffy is among teens, college kids, and post-college adults for that matter [I myself look scruffy much of the time] … and this is not exactly a new look [or urban and gay for that matter]. But, I considered that these 2 characters would differentiate between ‘hip’ scruffy and the real McCoy, so I took this description to mean the latter. I believe the chick also said Tyler’s hook up was an ‘older’ guy, whatever she meant by older.

    …Any who, he would seem to be a missing puzzle to this story; or maybe not. Occam’s Razor: Maybe Tyler did indeed kill himself over his roommate attempting to watch him on a webcam. I tend to believe there’s more to it.

  32. says

    The language the lawyers are using, specifically “sexual contact, “recorded, reproduced or disseminated in any way” indicates that their fighting what sounds like the correct charges from the beginning, specifically, they have violated U.S.C. 18 § 2257 — for which they could both do many years in prison. And they rightly should.

  33. danb says

    So the attorney admits they did view it? That is Against the law.

    As per the prosecutors office it is against NJ law to “use a camera to view and transmit a live image”. 

    Depiction of what is “sexual contact” can be argued in many ways. Were they dressed when they were kissing? Were they naked? Yet to be determined but the prosecutors office says viewing and transmitting a live image is a crime itself.

    I also find the “sketchy looking” as an attempt to make Tyler look like a promiscuous person. 

    And also which is it, the attorney said they viewed it for “a few seconds” but according to the same article Molly’s friend says she viewed it for “2 minutes”… What else are they lying about? 

    Lawyers doing what they do best LYING

    Guilty both of them

  34. Danny says

    I was not aware that Ravi was uncomfortable having a gay roommate. It sounded to me like that was worked out in Ravi’s mind and between the two of them. It probably titillated Ravi a little bit to have his roomie making it with a guy in their space (It was new territory to Ravi also) so he had some “fun” with it. But I don’t believe any of this demonstrates malice. I stick with my original take on this incident, gleaned almost as soon as I heard of it: Ravi thought (naively and stupidly, as adolescents will) that he was playing a “harmless prank.” He has now started to learn what thoughtless failure to consider another person’s feelings can cost. He and his family and the Wei family have a long rough road ahead of them. But in the scheme of things, Ravi’s actions are no more naive than the drunk teenager who thinks he can control the car. I personally believe that, unspeakably horrible as the outcome was, I don’t think Ravi had or has anything close to the malice for gay people that can be seen in common school bullies–or in Pastor Rick Warren for that matter.

  35. Tony says

    It was reported that Ravi tweeted a month before the crime that he “just found out my roommate was gay”..he allegedly also includes a link in this tweet to postings made by Tyler on justusboys. Why does Ravi tweet this info to his friends if he doesn’t have a problem with gay people? Also, how does he even know Tyler posts on this site? How did he get a direct link to Tylers posts?

    Tyler also says in later postings about the crime that he thinks Ravi did it so he can show his friends “look at what a fag my roommate is”..I would think the victim would know why he is being targeted.

    Tyler also says in the postings that if he were vengeful enough he would like to get back at Ravi by pouring “pink paint all over his stuff”..why does he say “pink paint”?

    He says this because he knows he was a victim of a Hate Crime.

  36. jaragon says

    The true reason from Tylers suicide will remain a mystery but these two jerks deserve to be punished- the I really did not mean to do it excuse is bullshit.

  37. Pursuit says

    If I were in a room with those two bastards, I’d be the only one walking out of it. They knew what they did and they knew why they did it. Fuck them. I hope they go to prison and their lives get ruined.

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