BREAKING: Ravi Found Guilty For Most Of The Shit He Did To Tyler Clementi

dharun ravi

On September 22nd, 2010, 18-year-old gay Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi posted “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry” on his facebook page and proceeded to do just that. His suicide, along with the suicides of three other teenage boys within weeks of Clementi’s death, catapulted the gay teen suicide “epidemic” to the forefront of the national conversation.

The past few weeks, Clementi’s ex-roommate Dharun Ravi has been on trial for a laundry list of crimes related to Ravi’s supremely stupid decision to broadcast Clementi’s homosexual liaisons via webcam to his friends on September 19th and 21st, 2010.

Today the New Jersey jury trying his case came back with a guilty verdict on 15 different counts. They found him guilty of committing a hate crime against Clementi but not against his sexual partner, M.B.. From NJ.com, a complete list of the counts and their respective verdicts:

COUNT 1

* 4th Degree Invasion of Privacy, related to Tyler Clementi: GUILTY

* 4th Degree Invasion of Privacy, related to Clementi’s guest, M.B.: GUILTY

(Observed Clementi/M.B. in sexual contact without their consent on Sept. 19)

COUNT 2
3rd Degree Bias Intimidation
(For 4th Degree Invasion of Privacy charge on Sept. 19)

+ Invasion of Privacy with the purpose to intimidate Tyler Clementi because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

+ Invasion of Privacy with the purpose to intimidate M.B. because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

+ Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause Tyler Clementi to be intimidated because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

+ Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause M.B. to be intimidated because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

* Invasion of Privacy, under circumstances that caused Tyler Clementi to be intimidated, and considering the manner in which the offense was committed, Clementi reasonably believed that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

COUNT 3

* 3rd Degree Invasion of Privacy, related to Tyler Clementi: GUILTY

* 3rd Degree Invasion of Privacy, related to M.B.: GUILTY

(Activated webcam so other people could view Clementi/M.B. in sexual contact on Sept 19.)

COUNT 4
2nd Degree Bias Intimidation
(For 3rd Degree Invasion of Privacy charge on Sept. 19)

+ Invasion of Privacy, with the purpose to intimidate Tyler Clementi because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

+ Invasion of Privacy, with the purpose to intimidate M.B. because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

* Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause Tyler Clementi to be intimidated because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

+ Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause M.B. to be intimidated, because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

* Invasion of Privacy, under circumstances that caused Tyler Clementi to be intimidated, and considering the manner in which the offense was committed, Clementi reasonably believed that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

COUNT 5

* 4th Degree Attempted Invasion of Privacy, related to Tyler Clementi: GUILTY

* 4th Degree Attempted Invasion of Privacy, related to M.B.: GUILTY

(Tried to observe Clementi/M.B. in sexual contact without their consent on Sept. 21)

COUNT 6
3rd Degree Bias Intimidation
(For 4th Degree Invasion of Privacy charge on Sept. 21)

+ Invasion of Privacy, with the purpose to intimidate Tyler Clementi because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

+ Invasion of Privacy, with the purpose to intimidate M.B. because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

+ Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause Tyler Clementi to be intimated because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

+ Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause M.B. to be intimidated because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

+ Invasion of Privacy, under circumstances that caused Tyler Clementi to be intimidated, and considering the manner in which the offense was committed, Clementi reasonably believed that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

COUNT 7

* 3rd Degree Attempted Invasion of Privacy, related to Tyler Clementi: GUILTY

* 3rd Degree Attempted Invasion of Privacy, related to M.B.: GUILTY

(Tried to show Clementi/M.B. in sexual contact to other people on Sept. 21)

COUNT 8
2nd Degree Bias Intimidation
(For 3rd Degree Attempted Invasion of Privacy charge on Sept. 21)

* Invasion of Privacy, with the purpose to intimidate Tyler Clementi because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

+ Invasion of Privacy, with the purpose to intimidate M.B. because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

* Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause Tyler Clementi to be intimidated because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

+ Invasion of Privacy, knowing that the conduct constituting invasion of privacy would cause M.B. to be intimidated because of sexual orientation: ACQUITTED

* Invasion of Privacy, under circumstances that caused Tyler Clementi to be intimidated, and considering the manner in which the offense was committed, Clementi reasonably believed that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation: GUILTY

COUNT 9

* 4th Degree Tampering with Physical Evidence: GUILTY
(Deleted tweets relevant to police investigation)

COUNT 10

* 4th Degree Tampering with Physical Evidence: GUILTY
(Wrote and posted a false tweet)

COUNT 11

* 3rd Degree Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution: GUILTY
(Destroyed evidence relevant to investigation)

COUNT 12

* 3rd Degree Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution: GUILTY
(Prevented a witness from providing testimony)

COUNT 13

* 3rd Degree Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution: GUILTY
(Lied to police)

COUNT 14

* 3rd Degree Witness Tampering: GUILTY
(Tried to influence what Molly Wei told police)

COUNT 15

* 4th Degree Tampering with Physical Evidence: GUILTY
(Deleted text messages sent to and received from witnesses)

Ravi now faces possible deportation to his native India and/or up to ten years in prison, as well as a potential permanent position in the innermost circle of hell. I was surprised, honestly, by this verdict, if only because being LGBT means you assume the case will never really go your way. You always wonder if someone on the jury might consider Clementi less-than-human because of his sexual orientation, or might think “gay panic” justifies the accused’s illegal actions — you never know with these things. Ravi clearly had a hard time understanding that actions have repercussions — the cockiness inherent in his attempt to cover evidence and change his friends’s testimony as if he’d get away with that says it all, really. Ravi is a huge asshole. He deserved all 15 of these guilty verdicts.

That being said, I’ve been consistently uneasy with the dialogue around Clementi’s case, especially as its been held up as The Example of how bullying gay teens can lead to suicide, particularly when unlike many other suicides, the cause/effect in this case is basically speculation (logical deduction, but speculation nonetheless). If you’re not already familiar with the case, it’s important to mention that although Clementi had no idea how widely his date was being broadcast, most accounts verify that it was only up online for a few minutes at most, the image was pretty crappy, and only a handful of kids actually saw it. I’m not saying this to excuse Ravi, obviously, but because I think that’s an important thing to think about when imagining Tyler’s state of mind. The entire school seeing you naked could certainly motivate suicide in and of itself, but in Clementi’s case I imagine there were other factors at work.

Having pored through every ounce of evidence and testimony as well as every G-Chat and phone text ever between Clementi and Ravi and their friends that fall, I personally believe that the story has been vastly oversimplified (as these stories so often are). I address this in detail in my post The Last Days of Tyler Clementi: New Questions, Some Answers. It’s clear that Clementi had been struggling with depression for some time, was having issues with his family, and that the social anxiety he carried with him all his life manifested itself in full during his first few weeks at Rutgers. He was lonely and insecure — a familiar feeling to many of us — and spent September in fluctuating states of self-consciousness, doubt and probably also a hefty dose of self-loathing. Clementi was, and of this I am sure, an introvert, and Ravi was a very passionate extrovert, and in this way (among, obviously, others) they were a rooming match made in hell.

Finding Ravi guilty is one step, and it’s a small “victory” if you can call it that, but it doesn’t lessen all the work that still needs to be done. Ravi will be punished for his carelessness, his recklessness, and his complete disregard for the feelings and privacy of others. Ravi will be punished for treating his roommate differently on account of his roommate’s sexuality. But if Clementi hadn’t killed himself, would Ravi still have been indicted for his crimes or would it just have been another one of the ten gabillion shitty things people do to LGBT kids and other outcasts? Would it have been handled internally, or “solved” by getting Clementi a new roommate? Some mention that the issues around technology raised by this case are part of what made it so attractive to try. What if Ravi and Clementi had been in high school instead of college? In middle school?

I guess I’m wondering here about the kids who physically assaulted, threatened, tormented and harassed 13-year-old Asher Brown, 13-year-old Seth Walsh, 14-year-old Samantha Johnson, 14-year-old Justin Aaberg, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer and so many more without reproach — does it surprise anyone that Ravi thought he’d never be held accountable for messing with the gay kid? Will it change anything that he has? What can we actually take away from the trial and sentencing of Dharun Ravi that will make a difference? I retain this small hope: that we acknowledge that it isn’t just kids who bully, it’s adults too, and that “having gay friends” or supporting gay rights or having “nothing against gay people” doesn’t mean a goddamn thing when you’re denying an actual living-and-breathing gay person your friendship, your support, your kindness and your mercy.

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1784 articles for us.

43 Comments

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    I’m her at Rutgers now..I run on campus with a friend..Students and faculty are talking about it..Lots of mixed feelings..Police presence is pretty strong..Maybe concerned about reactions etc? I don’t know..but it’s pretty intense!

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    The thing that surprises me most about this is that Ravi may be deported to India. I’ve never read anything to suggest that he’s ever actually lived there.

    I don’t know, I’m one of those people who thinks we should try and rehabilitate criminals instead of, you know, shipping them to a foreign country where they’ll literally know no one.

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            Obviously he’s from India but being born there isn’t the same as really “living” somewhere. Deporting someone that moved to the US in early childhood or infancy is virtually the same as deporting someone who was born here. He’ll go to a country that he knows very little about, with a culture that he doesn’t understand or identify with. He may have some extended family there, but he’s probably no more Indian in the sense of culture and identity than any US citizen with Indian parents

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    Thanks for the great coverage on this story. It’s such a shame. So many lives ruined and like you said, while I do see this as somewhat of a “victory”, it’s still incredibly tragic for everyone’s friends and families. I agree – Ravi is an asshole and he deserves to be charged. I’m glad that he’s going to suffer though the consequences of his actions. But what a terrible waste, for everyone.

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    Great write up. I hope he doesn’t go to jail… I feel like all he needs is to be scared shitless – so no one does that shit again. I know the poor kid committed suicide but I hate to think of an 18 year old in prison for 10 years for something that was just a bit stupid/reeked of straight privilege.

    But maybe that’s because I just hate the thought of young people in jail…

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    Basically, at this point I have no sympathy for Ravi. He turned down two good plea offers from the Prosecutors, I’m glad he was found guilty on 15 charges, and now we just have to wait and see what he gets sentenced to.

    I really appreciate how you laid out all the charges, what they were for, and whether he was acquitted or found guilty for each charge.

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      The fact that he turned down those plea bargains is so incredibly stupid and part of why I have trouble sympathizing with the “but he’s young and cocky and being punished forever for a youthful mistake” attitude. First of all, this isn’t just ANY “youthful mistake,” obviously. But second of all, it’s not like they showed him no mercy here. They gave him a way out, and he turned it down, because he was too cocky to think that the system might prove him to be guilty. He deserves it all at this point.

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          quoting from that comment you mentioned, megaera: “Thus, the plea deal presented to Ravi was not “plead guilty, do 600 hours of community service, and go free.” The deal would have been more like “plead guilty, do 600 hours of community service, and then the prosecutors will put in a good word with ICE, but we can’t guarantee that ICE won’t revoke your green card and deport you.”

          i think that’s important — i’m sure also his family had some say in the matter and probably the last thing they want to do is leave their life here and return to India with their douchebag son, and perhaps like most parents, believed he’d be acquitted. It’s unfortunate that the system works that way, because then a plea bargain isn’t really a plea bargain, right?

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    good.

    1. i bet he’ll never invade someone’s privacy again.

    2. this might actually discourage other douchebags like him from doing this to other people. then again, it might not. but either way ravi’s going to pay for his actions.

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    IDK, I feel like the rush to hide evidence was panic, rather than cockiness. You know, like kids hiding the wrappers of illicit sweets. It’s illegal, of course, but it is the one action of Ravi’s I have always been able to easily understand.

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      Local news here has been depicting him as a child of privilege, and everything that brings with it..They’ve really been hammering him on what appears to be his disregard and apparent lack of remorse..So I don’t really think his race was a factor in this verdict..

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        yeah honestly, sometimes in the US — as far as i’ve seen, and correct me if you’ve seen otherwise — the media can like to sell english-speaking college-educated/bound Indian and other Asian/Americans as exceptionally privileged to meet whatever ends of the story they’re trying to tell… i think whitney touched on how this plays out in college environments in this article recently, i just remembered… anyhow, the media also likes to sell non-english speaking non-college-educated/bound Indians and other Asian/Americans as less-than. It’s just a giant pile of fucked up shit.

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          hmm… while I do think east asians are often thought of as “the good minority” by white culture (desi: less so but still), it really only goes as long as they’re BEING good. As soon as they fuck up, its the “ignorant brown people”…
          I just mean that, I think a lot of people would have played it off as a nice kid making a mistake if he was white. Just a thought.
          /butidk

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            oh yeah, definitely. sorry, i wish i could just be a normal commenter who could talk about things without knowing anything or being held to a certain standard, and sometimes i forget that i’m not. obviously was a factor, it can’t not be. but i do also feel like people rally more around young white college boys, in general, yeah? again, i don’t know! i guess the only thing is that i hope the jury knew.

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            I think that feeling is entirely backed up by what we saw a few years ago in the Duke Lax trial, although that was proven to be a false charge. Even before the truth sort of came to light, a working woman of color vs. white male college athletes, it was sort of unquestionable who the media would side with.

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            its okay, haha. I didnt find your comment to be offensive or anything, I was just mentioning that his assimilation/model minority status has other repercussions.

            You brought up a valid point, though, if Ravi was a non-english speaking, non-college educated Brown person… well, there’d be an uproar.

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            also, ravi was super into computers and obvs tech-savvy to do this in the first place, which might have added to the impression of him as privileged. in tyler’s g-chats, he refers to ravi’s family as “very first gen”

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          This whole thing has been a giant pile of fucked up shit..The papers here have Ravi as a privileged little shit with no clue about “the real world”..He certainly hasn’t helped his own case in that regard..And NJ has a popular talk radio station that employs nasty, bigoted “radio personalities” who spent the entire trial hammering away, hour after hour, at why this trial was wrong..How it was a “harmless prank gone wrong” or my favorite, “good natured college fun”. How Ravi was “rail-roaded” by liberals needing to blame someone rather than accepting that Clementi was disturbed…On and on..I’m so damned disgusted by all of it..These are the adults..So what message do you think any kids listening are getting from this bullshit?

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            that station….SHUDDER. some of the shit they spew…..it amazes me it’s in jersey, sometimes. ignorant fucks.

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            Yep..That witch always gets to me..If I hear her say one more time “I have gay friends, and they tell me I’m right about this” before spewing her crap..She once said on air “Lesbians scare me a little..They do..Because they tend to find me attractive” Bullshit! The only way I’d ever find her attractive is with a ball-gag in her mouth..And only because it would shut her the fuck up!

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          a link to an article describing prejudice against Asians and Asian-Americans even if the reasoning behind it is “complementary” seems an odd way to argue that race could not have been a factor in the proceedings. It seems to confirm what Leyla said, that the “model minority” designation is only useful to beat down other minorities but there are little to no real “privileges” that come with it. I think this was a no-win situation because of the accompanying INS regulations. Needless to say I’m not OK with what Ravi has done, it could have been done to me or to anyone else here at that age, but we’ll never know how who he was might have played into the deliberations. And like you said, I don’t know how sending someone to India who is so ignorant is supposed to solve anything, except now he’s going to be over there…?

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            nah, like i said, i really don’t know, i just meant like “this is a thing that’s relevant, maybe” not “this is my argument or final word.” maybe sometimes i confuse internet talking with real talking, but generally my comments don’t have a thesis, i’m just tossing an idea out into a dialogue.

            yeah, i’m sure it likely was a huge factor. i don’t know and never will, but i appreciate hearing what everybody thinks about it.

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    I couldn’t have been more satisfied in hearing that a jury actually held this asshole accountable for his actions. I had plenty of concerns that he would somehow get away with this and how that would reflect on the gay community. I agree that there was probably a lot more to Tyler’s decision than this one incident, however, had he not killed himself I would still hope to see Ravi punished for what he did. To invade someone’s privacy in this manner is completely inexcusable!
    I’ve often wondered how this trial would be different if Tyler were still alive….or if it had been a female student (gay or straight). I think this shows great support for privacy with concern to LGBT students, which leads me to wonder what this means for the schools that are outing students to parents and faculty believing it will somehow protect them. I fear it’s only a matter of time before the actions of such schools will have devastating consequences if they haven’t already. Who will be held accountable then?

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    I’m not a lawyer, but luckily my darling mother who was reading over my shoulder is and I just got a very long law lesson.

    That being said I have to say that I think Miss. Wei should have more punishment than she got. Yeah I know she made a plea deal, but I bet she was thinking it was just as funny and stupid a prank as Ravi did in the moment and beyond the whole GLBT thing, who the fuck records your roommate having sex? Or lets someone do that from your computer? This case has caued me to lose a little bit of my faith n humanity.

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    Could we start a discussion on the categorization of crimes as “hate crimes” or “bias intimidation”?

    I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion elsewhere about the validity of using motivation as a aggravating circumstance in the commission of criminal acts.

    I’d just like to hear any thoughts on the issue.

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      I get a bit twitchy about this myself..I’m still trying to flesh out why the term “hate crime” bothers me..I guess I’m not comfortable with separating two similar crimes based on the motivation..Meaning, If you beat me up because I’m gay versus beating someone else up because they..IDK..pissed you off..Either way a crime was committed and should be investigated, prosecuted etc..There are lots of people out there who hate me because I’m gay..They’re allowed to..I would like the opportunity to discuss it with them..Maybe change their minds..But they don’t have to like me..The point is those same people don’t act on their dislike and commit a crime..They CHOOSE NOT to act on those feelings (irrational as they may be) as opposed to the assholes who do..I guess I do feel that we are legislating thoughts and I just don’t know how comfortable I am with that..I’m sure I will take some shit for this, and as I said I’m still trying to work it out in my head..

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        I have a problem with on that basic level that you mentioned.

        ‘If you beat me up because I’m gay versus beating someone else up because they..IDK..pissed you off..Either way a crime was committed and should be investigated, prosecuted etc.’

        Ultimately, a crime is a crime. And I just feel that if someone I loved had been murdered (were straight) and the person was yelling “You dirty slag” when they were doing it. Why should there be an additional punishment if the words were “You dirty dyke”. I understand there’s probably a factor of the justice system wanting to send a message against LGBT hate but this whole ‘hate crime adds additional years’ business…I don’t know…it makes me uneasy.

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          The difference is that the crime isn’t done just to commit the crime but also to send a message to both the victim and the larger community that the victim is in a class ‘less than human’ – it’s an act of intimidation meant to have a chilling effect on more than the immediate victim. In this case, that bias is pretty damned clear – by invading Clementi’s privacy, he was sending a message not just to Clementi but also to every person who saw the video (a handful of people) and everyone who heard about it afterward (a much larger number of people) the people who are gay deserve to have their right to privacy stripped away; that the deserve to be publicly humiliated and mocked.

          So the victims of the bias was not just Clementi and his date, but also the witnesses, who were sent the implicit message of “conform or be publicly shamed.” those people get justice in this verdict, too. As do you and I.

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            Not only is the crime symbolic, but I think the detractors missed the fact that no crime would have been committed absent the prejudice. At least someone who pisses their assailant off did something, but someone being a member of a class of people hasn’t involved themselves in any situation. Maybe analogous to assaulting a random individual, but still, it’s sort of a reflection on a person’s character if they are driven to violence by something like that, don’t you think? It definitely makes sense in my mind to liken that to pre-meditation, as Willis does below.

            I guess that didn’t say anything regarding hate crimes, in particular, but at least I sort of got at why a certain motivation shows a distinction in the level of depravity or aggression, in my mind.

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      I completely understand the discomfort of punishing for crimes based on what somebody is thinking. However, I think this is similar to a murder being pre-meditated versus an impulsive act in a moment. The mindset, if there is evidence about what it was, can be important. That, combined with the fact that these crimes are so often sickeningly brutal/inhumane assuages any discomfort I might normally feel about these sorts of things. I wish we didn’t live in a world where this sort of crime classification was necessary, but I think the evidence is that we still do.

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    Clementi apparently said in an online chat to a friend that Ravi was ‘total first gen…(I think?) his parents own a Dunkin (Donuts)’. Showing some stereotyping on Clementi’s part.

    I think it’s really important, as you said Riese, to also factor in his mental state and his reported long term depression. His preference for being quiet and reserved and left alone was totally opposite to Ravi, so it’s understandable if he was also upset due to that not being respected, that that’s who he is and he’s not an extrovert like Ravi.

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