(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) — A New Jersey jury on Friday found former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty on all counts for using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a gay sexual encounter in 2010.
Ravi, 20, was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to observe Clementi’s date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and of intimidating Clementi for being gay.
Ravi was found not guilty of some sub-parts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted.
The convictions carry a possible sentence of five to ten years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India and is in the U.S. on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing. The U.S. deports most non-citizens convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.
Clementi’s case gained national attention when he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge Sept. 22, 2010 after Ravi revealed Clementi’s sexual encounters. Ravi was not charged in connection with Clementi’s death.
Throughout the trial, Middlesex County Prosecutor Julie McClure maintained that Ravi spied on Clementi’s date because Clementi was gay, and told his friends and Twitter followers to also spy on Clementi. McClure described Ravi’s 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.
Ravi’s defense attorney, Steven Altman, dismissed suggestions that his client was anti-gay or targeting Clementi because of his sexuality. He claimed that Ravi was curious and immature, but not malicious, when he decided to activate the 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.
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Heather Kelly, CNN
Jim Acosta and Greg Clary, CNN
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