Ravi is the oldest son of well-educated parents who immigrated to New Jersey from India when Ravi was a toddler. During high school, Ravi joined the ultimate frisbee team and frequently tinkered with the latest trends in technology, following in the footsteps of his father, who owns an information-technology company. Ravi is viewed by those who know him as incessantly social and boisterous.
Clementi, on the other hand, was a talented violinist, painfully quiet and extremely shy, according to court papers. He often wished he had more friends. While Ravi drove a BMW in high school, Clementi did not own a car. He grew up in a "very conservative, very religious family," according to his older brother James. Clementi's mother worked as a nurse and his father served as the director of public works in Hawthorne, N.J.
Clementi's other interests, which he mentioned in various online forums, include unicycling, computing, and photography.
Ravi and Clementi each formed simplistic impressions of the other online before they ever met in person.
Clementi had come out to his parents just three days before leaving for college in the fall of 2010. But he had long been active on gay online websites, including a pornographic site called Justforboys, where Ravi discovered a post from Clementi.
"Found out my roommate is gay," Ravi tweeted.
Clementi wrote his own friend on gChat, "I've started stalking my roommate..," and "I got an azn (Asian)."
He then forwarded a link to Ravi's Twitter account. Later, after meeting Ravi's Indian parents for the first time, Clementi messaged a friend "sooo Indian first gen americanish" and "defs owna dunkin" (Dunkin' Donuts).
Unlike Ravi, who spent much time outside of their room socializing, Clementi admits in his chats that he was a private person "wanting to be alone," and worried about being overheard playing his violin by his fellow freshman in the dorm: "It feels so awk to practice in the room ... like everyone in the whole building can hear me hehe."
He tells another friend, "I would die if I was forced to always have people around me."
Clementi had recently opened up about his sexuality to both his family and classmates. He tells his online contact Sam Cruz: "I'm out to a whole bunch a people."
In July 2010, he came out to his older brother James and had told his parents just before leaving for college. Although his father accepted the news, Clementi perceived his mother's reaction very differently: "It's a good thing dad is ok w/it or I would be in serious trouble / mom has basically completely rejected me."
Other documents found on Clementi's computer indicate that Clementi also may have suffered from depression during this same period. Files entitled "Gah.docx," "sorry.docx," and "Why is everything so painful.docx," are dated from July through early September. But the judge will not permit any of these documents in court, since Ravi is not charged with Clementi's death.
Ravi's own ambivalent, and at times accepting, reaction to Clementi's sexual orientation further complicates the prosecution's case.
"There are numerous indications that the defendant wasn't homophobic," Fahy said.