October 5, 2012 in Nation/World

Parents decide not to sue in Rutgers webcam case

Geoff Mulvihill Associated Press
 

The parents of a Rutgers University student who killed himself after his roommate used a webcam to see him kissing another man have decided not to sue the university or anyone else involved in the case, preferring instead to focus their energies on the foundation started in his name.

“They’re just in a spot now where they have this opportunity because of the fact that the media has made this case so well known to do some very good things through the foundation,” Paul Mainardi, an attorney for Joseph and Jane Clementi of Ridgewood, N.J., said Friday.

The couple had accused New Jersey’s flagship public university of failing to prevent their son’s suicide in 2010, which occurred just days after the webcam spying, and had filed court papers preserving their right to sue.

But Mainardi said the Clementis feel Rutgers has been “very responsive” and the school is working with The Tyler Clementi Foundation on a number of projects.

“They’ve met with us a number of times at the highest level. They have undertaken a lot within the university system to respond to this voluntarily, responsibly,” the attorney said.

Rutgers changed its housing policies after Clementi’s suicide, allowing opposite-sex roommates, with the idea of making gay and lesbian students more comfortable.

The Clementis’ foundation has been a co-sponsor of an academic conference at Rutgers on social media.

The family has said it wants the foundation to teach responsible use of social media and increase acceptance of gays in schools, communities and even churches.

Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. His roommate, Dharun Ravi, spent 20 days in jail last year after being convicted of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and witness tampering. He’s appealing.

Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi’s death, but his family has said they believe his behavior was a factor, especially in light of tweets he made and which were part of the case against him.

One of them read, in part: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Clementi had told his parents he was gay before leaving college, three weeks before his death. But they believe that learning about the webcam recording in his dorm room humiliated him and made him realize that being out as gay on campus would not be so easy.

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