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Guilty Verdict Issued in Rutgers Webcam Spying Case
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A conviction was handed down on Friday in the case of webcam spying involving a former student from Rutgers University. The student, Dharun Ravi, was convicted of invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation. The victim in the case, Tyler Clementi, was videotaped kissing another man by a webcam setup by Ravi, Clementi’s roommate. Clementi killed himself by throwing himself off a bridge.

Ravi could be facing close to 10 years in prison, according to some officials, and also could be deported to his native country India despite having lived in the country legally since he was a young boy. The webcam was setup in the room in September of 2010. When Ravi saw what he captured on film he tweeted about it and tried to catch Clementi in the act again. Almost half a dozen students saw the kiss happen live.

  
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Days later, Clementi realized what happened and posted one final time to Facebook, “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.” He jumped from the George Washington Bridge to his death. Clementi’s father, Joe, said the following after the verdict was issued today:

“You’re going to meet a lot of people in your life. Some of these people you may not like. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean you have to work against them.”

A statement from Rutgers was released that said: “This sad incident should make us all pause to recognize the importance of civility and mutual respect in the way we live, work and communicate with others.”

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During the trial, prosecutors were not permitted to argue that the webcam spying caused Clementi’s death and defense lawyers were not permitted to argue that Clementi killed himself for other reasons.

“The verdict today demonstrates that the jurors understood that bias crimes do not require physical weapons like a knife in one’s hand,” said Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, according to ABC News.



Over a span of 12 days, there was testimony from close to 30 witnesses. One of the witnesses, identified only as M.B., was the 32-year-old romantic friend of Clementi. Ravi did not take the stand but the jury watched a video of his interrogation by the police investigating the case. Ravi and Clementi were both freshman at the time of the incident, who had been randomly assigned a dorm room together. When Clementi arrived at school it was only days after he came out to his parents as a gay man.

Ravi was asked to leave the room on September 19 so Clementi could have a guest come over. That night, Ravi posted the following on Twitter:

“Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Only two nights later, Clementi requested Ravi to leave the room again. Ravi then tweeted the following:

“I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”

Clementi committed suicide on September 22, 2010.



 

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