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Student Found Guilty Of Privacy Invasion In Webcam Hate-Crime Case

Catherine Green |
March 16, 2012 | 10:30 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

(Creative Commons/Flickr)
(Creative Commons/Flickr)
Dharun Ravi, a 20-year-old student at Rutgers University, was found guilty Friday on charges of invasion of privacy after spying via webcam on his roommate, Tyler Clementi.

Clementi, who was gay, killed himself after Ravi streamed video of his roommate engaging in intimate acts with another man on two separate occasions in September 2010.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a jury deliberated for three days before deciding Ravi was guilty of privacy invasion, and was motivated by homophobic bias. The case put to use the somewhat new hate-crime law in New Jersey.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Ravi showed no reaction as the jury forewoman read the verdict. Families for both sides filled five benches of the packed courtroom, remaining stone-faced as the verdicts were read.

…During 12 days of testimony in the trial, defense attorney Steven Altman never denied that Ravi used a camera to observe the meetings between Clementi and M.B., the unnamed witness who was present during the dorm-room encounters. Instead, the defense lawyer argued that Ravi’s actions were those of an immature teenager who went too far in a situation he was unprepared to handled.

Prosecutor Julia McClure argued that after Ravi received Clementi’s email address as part of the freshman year process at Rutgers, he went online and was upset to learn that his roommate might be gay. She argued the text messages, emails and other communications with friends showed a calculated attempt to intimidate Clementi because of his sexual orientation.

Ravi now faces up to 10 years in prison, but will likely get a lighter sentence because he is a first-time offender. He could also face deportation as he is India-born and rejected a plea deal in December that offered assistance from immigration authorities.

A judge is expected to determine Ravi's sentence May 21. 

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