Ex-Rutgers Student Charged With Hate Crime After Roommate’s Suicide


Vibe | March 16, 2012 - 9:17 pm

A jury convicted former Rutgers University student, Dharun Ravi, 20, of all 15 counts against him involving the suicide of Tyler Clementi in Sept. 2010. Among the charges was bias intimidation based on sexual orientation, which is a hate crime.

Other charges brought against Ravi were invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence, after Clementi was caught kissing another man on a webcam set up by Ravi. Upon seeing the footage, Ravi encouraged his friends to watch via Twitter and text messages. Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey just days later, shedding light the issues of gay and lesbian discrimination, and cyber bullying.

A major issue in the case were whether or not Ravi had targeted Clementi specifically because of his sexual orientation, for which the defense argued that Ravi was just an immature “kid.” Ravi also stated that he initially installed the camera to keep an eye on his belongings. Another issue in question was whether or not Clementi had been intimidated after finding out about the footage, which prosecutors argued for, with evidence showing that Clementi had checked Ravi’s Twitter feed 38 times after the first webcam viewing.

The jury ultimately reached split decisions on the case’s details, but agreed that Clementi had reason to believe he was being targeted for his sexual preference. Clementi’s suicide was rarely mentioned during the trail, as prosecutors were not allowed to cite the spying as the reason for his death, and the defense were not allowed to cite any other reasons for the suicide.

Experts say Ravi can face up to 10 years in prison, and be deported back to his native India. — Iyana Robertson