Two Rutgers students were arrested this week for planting a
hidden camera webcam in a fellow student's dorm room, and broadcasting video of him having sex. And, tragically, sources say their victim has now committed suicide.
According to CBS, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18, are charged with invasion of privacy for taping another student having sex and then putting the video on the Internet. Wei actually turned herself in to the police on Monday, but Ravi tried to tape yet another student — he was arrested Tuesday and is now free on $25,000 bail. Wei was freed on her own recognizance, but both could face up to five years in prison.
But the man they allegedly taped won't see them receive justice. According to NJ.com, officials believe the Rutgers freshman committed suicide Friday by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His car, cell phone, and computer were found at the scene.
It's unclear whether the suicide will affect the charges against Ravi and Wei, but it does make the term "invasion of privacy" seem even more inadequate. Rutgers student Kate Perkowski pointed out that the communal living arrangement of a dorm made the crime especially disturbing: "I mean we all live in such close conditions with each other, it's like breach of privacy…I think it's gross." And fellow student Tiwa Adediji said, "Its my dorm. Its my private space. I expect… my privacy to be respected and to be able to do whatever I want. There should be no one there invading my privacy." The students are absolutely right that what Ravi and Wei allegedly did was a privacy violation, but so is reading someone's mail. Taping people having sex without their consent and then putting it on the Internet for all to see seems to deserve a more serious designation — maybe it should even be understood as a form of sexual assault. Whatever the final charge is, it should now be clear to everyone at Rutgers and around the country that broadcasting someone's sexual activity isn't a funny prank — it can have deadly consequences.
Update: According to Gawker, the victim was Ravi's roommate. Ravi used a webcam to film him having sex with a male partner, and apparently streamed the footage via iChat.