NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate who later committed suicide, was found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.
WCBS 880’s Levon Putney In New Brunswick
The jury reached a split verdict during its third day of deliberations in the Rutgers webcam spying trial.
Ravi shook his head as the verdict was read. The jury found he used a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi in Sept. 2010 and that he did it and told others about it because of a bias against gays.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg With More On The Verdict
Each bias intimidation charge included five questions. A finding of guilty on any of them made Ravi guilty of the entire charge.
The jury issued a split verdict on those subquestions, finding him not guilty on some sub parts of some counts, but guilty of all 15 counts as a whole.
It found, for example, that Ravi did not try to intimidate Clementi’s romantic partner, identified in court only as M.B., and that Clementi reasonably believed Ravi was trying to intimidate him because of his sexual orientation. It split over whether Ravi knowingly or willfully intimidated Clementi because of his sexuality.
Ravi was also found guilty of witness and evidence tampering, attempted invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension or prosecution.
“They didn’t find necessarily that he hates gays, but they found that the victims felt intimidated because they were gay,” explained legal analyst and attorney Mark Furnish. “It’s complicated and it’s an unsettled area of the law and I think there will be fertile grounds for an appeal in the case.”
Kashad Leverett of South Amboy is the same age as the defendant he judged. He said the evidence showed Ravi acted with intent. He said there was very little argument during the deliberations and no one considered the spying to be an innocent prank.
“It wasn’t a typical jury where you see people arguing and everything,” Leverett told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
Days after the spying took place, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi’s death.
Outside the courthouse after the decisions were read, Clementi’s father, Joe, addressed himself to college students and other young people, saying: “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.”
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell: Joe Clementi Said Watching The Trial Was Painful
“We were here every day because wanted to be here for our son, and because we believed this trial was important because it dealt with important issues for our society and for our young people today,” Joe Clementi said on Friday.
He is asking young people to be tolerant and to speak up if they see something they know is wrong.
“You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you,” he said.
Clementi’s family has created a foundation to prevent teen suicide and develop anti-bullying programs.
Clementi’s death was one in a string of suicides by young gays around the country in September 2010. President Barack Obama commented on it, as did talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
“We do believe that this verdict shows that a ‘kids will be kids’ defense is no excuse for bullying,” he said. “This is an important verdict in the interest of sending a powerful signal that bullying is unacceptable, period.”
Rutgers also issued a statement after the verdict 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.”
The most serious charges, bias intimidation based on sexual orientation, a hate crime, carry up to 10 years in prison each. Legal experts said the most Ravi would probably get all together would be 10 years.
Ravi’s sentencing is set for May 21.
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