A New Jersey jury today found former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty of the most serious charges for spying on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a gay sexual encounter in 2010.
Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating a webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also accused of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.
Ravi, who faces 10 years in prison and deportation to India, was was found not guilty of some of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but was found guilty of the majority of crimes.
Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, put his arm around Ravi's shoulder shortly before the verdict. Ravi showed little reaction as the jury read out the verdicts to his crimes.
Clementi's case gained national attention when he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge Sept. 22, 2010. Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.
Throughout the trial, Middlesex County Prosecutor Julie McClure tried to build a case that Ravi spied on Clementi's date because his roommate was gay, and told his friends and Twitter followers to also spy on Clementi, describing his actions as an anti-gay hate crime.
She argued that Clementi was clearly made uncomfortable by Ravi's actions, evidenced in Clementi's request for a room change that he submitted to Rutgers on Sept. 21.
"Three weeks into the semester and (Clementi) finds out that his sexual orientation has been broadcast to the defendant's twitter followers," McClure said. "His private sexual activities have been exposed. What do you think he's thinking? 'If Molly saw it, did Cassie see it? Did people in the hall see it? Did people in Davidson C see it?' You don't think that he was intimidated by learning that information? Fearful, embarrassed? He'd been exposed."
Ravi's defense attorney, Steven Altman, dismissed suggestions that his client was anti-gay or targeting Clementi. He claimed that Ravi was curious and immature, but not malicious, when he decided to activate hte webcam on Sept. 19.
"Why we're here is because on Sept. 19, and Sept. 21, 2010, an 18-year-old boy, a kid, a college freshman, had an experience, had an encounter that he wasn't ready for," Altman told the jury, claiming that Ravi reacted "immaturely" to what he saw on the screen.
Altman argued that Ravi only activated the webcam to keep an eye on his belongings while an older "creepy" stranger was in the room, and that Ravi's messages on Twitter and to his friends about the spying were just immature joking.
Ravi is also charged with witness tampering and hindering arrest during the investigation.