Friday, March 16, 2012
Rutgers (college) Spying Verdict
Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers University student accused of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate,was found guilty Friday on charges of invasion of privacy, but jurors found him not guilty on several charges of bias intimidation. Ravi, 20, had been on trial on a 15-count indictment that included charges of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence, witness tampering, and hindering apprehension. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, an 18-yr old freshman, killed himself in September 2010 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, after learning that Ravi had secretly spied on his sexual encounter with another man. Clementi's death stirred discussion about bullying, with Obama releasing a videotaped message less than a month later condemning it. A few months later, New Jersey legislators enacted stricter laws to better protect against bullying in schools. The most serious charges at Rutgers case centered on whether Ravi's actions had constituted bias intimidation, meaning that he was motivated to inspire fear in the Ridgewood, New Jersey, native b/c of his sexual orientation. Those charges carry jail time of up to 10 yrs and possibly deportation back to his native India. Prosecutors have said that Ravi has tried to embarrass Clementi b/c he was gay."These acts were purposeful, they were intentional, and they were planned, prosecutor Julia McClure told the jury on the 1st day of trial. Ravi "was bothered by Tyler's sex orientation." she later said more bluntly. Ravi's attorneys have argued that their client acted thoughtlessly, portraying him as an immature college student who made a mistake, and that his actions were not based on homophobia. "He hasn't lived long enough to have any experience homosexuality or gays," said attorney Steven Altman inclosing arguments earlier this week. "He doesn't know anything about it. He just graduated high school." Ravi and fellow classmate Molly Wei-- who admitted joining Ravi to watch the surreptitious webcam encounter, which others were charged in the wake of Tyler's suicide. They were not, however, charged directly for his death. Facing 2 counts of invasion of privacy, Wei reached a plea deal in May 2011 that required her testify against her friend and former high school classmate, as well as to complete a 3 year program on cyber bullying and do 300 hour of community service.