Hundreds of pages of documents relating to the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi were released today, and, well, if you thought the story of a gay college freshman jumping off the George Washington bridge after his roommate set up a spy cam in their dorm room couldn't get any more unbelievably sad and tragic... think again.
The documents—which include transcripts of instant messages and texts—paint a fuller portrait of the relationship between Clementi and his roommate Dharun Ravi (pictured), as well as the events that led up to Clementi's suicide. (Ravi has been charged with invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, and could be facing 10 years in prison.) Unsurprisingly, it was strained from the start, on both sides:
After they moved in together, Clementi and Ravi spent time in their room chatting on their computers with friends about their tense living arrangements. Clementi said Ravi would not change his clothes in front of him. "He knows I'm gay and wow he changes his pants inside of his closet ... it's the most awk thing you've ever seen," Clementi wrote in an instant messaging chat with a friend.
While Ravi made fun of Clementi being gay, Clementi made fun of his roommate's Indian heritage. "His (family) is sooo indian/ first gen americanish . . . just like . . . first son off to college . . . his rents defs owna dunkin (donuts)," Clementi wrote in an Aug. 28 chat with a friend the day he moved into the dorm.
Clementi had only just come out of the closet when he arrived at Rutgers, and he told a friend his dad was "ok [with] it" but that his mom had "basically rejected" him. Nevertheless the transcripts confirm that Clementi initially told people he was (in the words of the Newark Star Ledger) "not too bothered" by Ravi's voyeurism, something he also said in posts on a gay message board. But something clearly changed between those conversations and the day he drove to the George Washington bridge:
Ravi also attempted to apologize to Clementi for the webcam incident in a series of text messages. "I've known you were gay and I have no problem with it," Ravi texted. "I don't want your freshman year to be ruined because of a petty misunderstanding, it's adding to my guilt."
But Ravi's texts were likely too late, according to court papers. Clementi put a message on his Facebook page saying he was jumping off the George Washington Bridge minutes before Ravi sent his apology.
Clementi's family's attorney hasn't commented on the release of the documents. The other student charged in the incident, Molly Wei, will testify against Ravi and be placed in a probationary program.