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New Jersey

Jury finds Dharun Ravi guilty of hate crime against Tyler Clementi

Friday, March 16, 2012

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A jury in New Jersey has found Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty of a hate crime against his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, for using a web cam to spy on Clementi’s intimate encounters with another man.

The jury also found Ravi guilty of a number of other charges, including invasion of privacy and witness tampering. The jury found Ravi not guilty in relation to charges as they affected Clementi’s male date, identified in court only as “M.B.”

Dharun Ravi

Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison for the convictions. The guilty charges could also result in Ravi, who is on a student visa to study here, being deported.

During the two-week trial, Ravi’s chief attorney, Steve Altman, repeatedly characterized Ravi’s actions with the web cam as the sort of foolish prank one should expect from an 18-year-old college student.

Ravi and Clementi were both in their first year at Rutgers University in September 2010 when Ravi set up his computer web cam to capture images of Clementi having intimate relations with M.B.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Julie McClure portrayed Ravi as a person who expressed to his friends discomfort with having a gay roommate and who deliberately set up his web cam to invade Clementi’s privacy and ridicule his being gay. She said Ravi’s preoccupation with Clementi’s sexual orientation “drove his escalating and deliberative acts.”

McClure’s position was weakened by Judge Glenn Berman who discouraged any mention during the trial that Clementi had jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in the early morning hours of September 22 after discovering Ravi’s web cam spying and Twitter posts about Clementi’s relationship. He also struck from evidence the details of Clementi’s communications to university officials in which he asked for a room change because of Ravi’s spy cam activity.

Ravi did not take the witness stand in his own defense during the trial in Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. But Altman played a videotape of Ravi being questioned by detectives at the police station on September 23, while Clementi was still missing.

Tyler Clementi, in his Ridgewood High School yearbook photo from 2010.

During that interrogation, Ravi stated, “Yes, I did” in response
to a question about whether he violated Clementi’s privacy. But he added that he didn’t do so deliberately.

Ravi’s attorneys also introduced into evidence a long text message Ravi wrote to
Clementi, saying that his turning the web camera on while Clementi had a date in the room had been an accident.

The email said he had turned
the camera on only to show his friend “how I set up my
computer so I can access it from anywhere.” Ravi’s email said he turned the camera off as soon as he saw Clementi and his male date but felt “uncomfortable and guilty” about it and “told people what occurred so they could give me advice.”

Ravi’s email said the reason he turned the camera on a second time Clementi had his date in the room was because “I wanted to make sure what happened” the first time “wouldn’t happen again.”

Ravi’s text message to Clementi was sent at 8:46 p.m. on September 22, four minutes after Clementi posted a message on his own Facebook page saying, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”

It is not known whether Clementi saw Ravi’s text that night, but records of Clementi’s own computer use, introduced into evidence, indicated that Clementi viewed Ravi’s Twitter posts about him numerous times and saved screenshots of them.

Ravi’s text message to Clementi also seemed to contradict him. It claimed he posted something on Twitter to let his friends know “not to video chat me” while Clementi was in the room with his date on the second occasion. But the Twitter post to friends stated, “I dare you to video chat with me” during Clementi’s date.

The prosecution also introduced evidence that Ravi deleted more than 80 text messages from his own phone as investigators were preparing to interview him.

The hate crime law in New Jersey, entitled “bias intimidation,” states that a person is guilty of “the crime of bias intimidation if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an offense…(1) with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity; or (2) knowing that the conduct constituting the offense would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of [the minority status] or (3) under circumstances that caused any victim of the underlying offense to be intimidated and the victim, considering the manner in which the offense was committed, reasonably believed either that (a) the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim or any person or entity in whose welfare the victim is interested because of [his minority status] or (b) the victim or the victim’s property was selected to be the target of the offense because of the victim’s [minority status].

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30 more reader comments:

  1. I watched the whole thing. I am very pleased! He deserves to be in jail! RIP Tyler Clement!

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:16am
  2. Justice

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:16am
  3. This is one of the few times I am not ashamed to call New Brunswick my home town.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:18am
  4. deport him!

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:18am
  5. he should have gotten alot more than he did.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:19am
  6. So: the guy who recorded his roomate having sex with another man will himself soon be having sex with other men (hopefully) for the next 10 years. Isn’t it ironic ? I just wish he could be in there longer !
    R.I.P. Tyler. Justice has been served.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:23am
  7. Rape jokes and racist remarks are unbecoming of this community. You all should know better. I urge you to think twice and remove your comments.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:25am
  8. I love the smell of incarcerated douchebag in the morning.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:25am
  9. Success!! <3

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:26am
  10. Seriously..i’m not joking. That’s what happens in prison, and i don’t feel sorry for him, or for what’s going to happen to him. IJS..

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:28am
  11. State-sanctioned rape is the appropriate punishment for a crime? Is that what you’re just saying? Disgusting.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:30am
  12. Justice is done

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:44am
  13. I’m with Matthew. Comments like that are pretty much hateful and beneath us.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:54am
  14. deport him now, why should we pay for him to be in our jails????

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:55am
  15. The State doesn’t sanction it. Its actually against the rules in most states..but it does happen.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:58am
  16. I’m glad he’s going to prison…whatever happens after that is not up to me…i’m not wishing him anything … i don’t want to ever think about him again…let’s remember his victim with love and compassion instead

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:01am
  17. This is such a sad situation.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:08am
  18. Far too often hate crimes perpetrators get away with little or no consequences for their actions. I hope this case sets an example for all to see that bigotry doesn’t pay.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:18am
  19. He was given a chance in this country and look at what his actions caused. Let him serve his time and then deport him.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:26am
  20. I agree with Matthew Patterson that gleefully wishing him to be raped in jail is itself disgusting. And I consider it to be a hate crime, those comments. What is hateful, is that Tyler lived in a society where the stupid actions of a handful of individuals tore him apart, when the love and acceptance of his family, friends, acquaintances and his society as a whole was lacking. What is hateful is a society that is quick to tar and feather individuals, rather than look itself in the mirror and see how it–family, friends and strangers to Tyler–did not show him enough love to brush aside these stupid acts.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:34am
  21. Either way , hes getting what he deserved. RIP Tyler

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 11:26am
  22. I hope he’s deported…I don’t think our tax dollars should support him.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 12:18pm
  23. Too Bad for him, if he didn’t do what he did he wouldn’t be where he is now. No hate involved, just a feeling of no sorrow or pitty for him and what may possibly happen to him when he goes to prison. Karmas a bitch! RIP Tyler <3

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 2:01pm
  24. good, now he will be butt hurt about it in prison

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 2:51pm
  25. Ravi is so arrogant and deserves what he got. The prosecution offered him a plea deal with community service and he turned it down…

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 4:51pm
  26. Justice was served. Thank you God.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 7:34pm
  27. So happy that justice was served…Hope this never ever happens again..

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 8:13pm
  28. This sentence is much too lenient. He should also definitely be deported.

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 8:27pm
  29. :)

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 9:47pm
  30. “Almost” served!

    But not 100%

    But I’m thinking as a Legal Person not as a LGBTQ because I am not.. so I can see how yes.. this is “Justice” but as a legal thinking person, and very much the Human Rights Activist…. I still call for new Laws to make SURE that 100% justice is served next time, and lord knows… there will be a next time.. Damn!!

    Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:29pm