Tyler Clementi Webcam Spying Case Ruled a Hate Crime

Illustration for article titled Tyler Clementi Webcam Spying Case Ruled a Hate Crime

A jury found 20-year-old Dharun Ravi guilty of having homophobic motivations for using a webcam to spy on his former Rutgers roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who killed himself shortly after the incident.

Although the defense argued that Ravi was simply playing an immature prank when he filmed Clementi and a male romantic partner alone in their shared dorm room —"Who wouldn't be curious," attorney Steve Altman said, "if it's your room and all of a sudden in a dorm of 18 and 17-year-olds somebody comes in looking scruffy and homeless?" — the jury took less than three days to determine that Ravi was motivated by homophobia, not a healthy curiosity. Ravi was charged with four counts of bias intimidation as a hate crime, two counts of invasion of privacy, two counts of attempted invasion of privacy and seven counts of witness tampering and hindering apprehension. He now faces up to ten years in prison based primarily on the bias intimidation charges and a possible deportation back to his native India.

Legal expert Margaret Finerty, a former New York federal judge, told NBC that deportation isn't a "sure thing" and would be decided by a different court, which would determine if the crime was one of "moral turpitude, which is one of the kinds of offenses that could get someone deported."

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The sentencing date has been set for May 21.

Dharun Ravi found guilty in Rutgers webcam spying trial [Rutgers Star]
Dharun Ravi guilty of invasion of privacy, other counts in Tyler Clementi Rutgers spying case [NY Daily News]
Former Rutgers Student Convicted in Webcam-Spying Trial [Wall Street Journal]

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DISCUSSION

This case really hit me hard. I lived on the same campus, same dorm area as these two (two years earlier, but there is still that home dorm pride). I'd dealt with a similar situation happening in the dorms, me as the victim. Rutgers did nothing - everything was "handled" internally and the aggressor was back on the floor, in my classes and living a normal life days after it happened. I was incredibly grateful that this case was NOT left up to Rutgers and that it wasn't something they could hide.

From the beginning I've really hoped that something would be done. Not as some sort of vengeful justice or spite, mostly because I really think that it brings to light that on campus crimes are actually real crimes. There is so much a culture that what students do on campus doesn't count because "he's just a kid" or "it was a stupid mistake" and it is constantly reinforced. What Ravi did was wrong, on so many levels, and I feel such relief that his crimes are being treated with seriousness that they command.

There is no doubt in my mind that Clementi was not okay, even without the added bonus of a shitty, douchey roommate, but that still doesn't excuse Ravi.