NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A former Rutgers
University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his gay
roommate's love life was convicted Friday of invasion of privacy and
anti-gay intimidation in a case that exploded into the headlines when
the victim threw himself to his death off a bridge.
Ravi, 20, shook his head slightly after hearing guilty verdicts on all
15 counts against him. He and his lawyers left the courthouse without
comment, his father's arm around his shoulders.
could get up to 10 years in prison by some estimates — and could be
deported to his native India, even though he has lived legally in the
U.S. since he was a little boy — for an act that cast a spotlight on
teen suicide and anti-gay bullying and illustrated the Internet's
potential for tormenting others.
said Ravi set up a webcam in his dorm room in September 2010 and
captured roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man, then tweeted about
it and excitedly tried to catch Clementi in the act again two days
later. A half-dozen students were believed to have seen the live video
of the kissing.
Within days, Clementi
realized he had been watched and leaped from the George Washington
Bridge after posting one last status update on Facebook: "Jumping off
the gw bridge, sorry."
At a courthouse news
conference after the verdict, 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
Rutgers said in a statement:
"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
During the trial, Ravi's lawyer
argued that the college freshman was not motivated by any hostility
toward gays and that his actions were just those of an immature "kid."
The defense also contended Ravi initially set up the camera because he
was afraid Clementi's older, "sketchy"-looking visitor might steal his
The jury found Ravi not guilty on some subparts of some of the charges, but guilty of all 15 counts as a whole.
most serious charges — bias intimidation based on sexual orientation, a
hate crime — carry up to 10 years behind bars each. But legal experts
said the most Ravi would probably get all together at sentencing May 21
would be 10 years.
Before the trial, Ravi and
his lawyers had rejected a plea bargain that would have spared him from
prison. He would have gotten probation and community service and would
have been given help in avoiding deportation.
was not charged with causing Clementi's death, and the suicide remained
largely in the background at the trial, though some witnesses mentioned
it and the jury was told Clementi had taken his life.
were not allowed to argue directly that the spying led to his death;
defense lawyers were barred from saying there were other reasons he
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
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 on
questions of whether Ravi knowingly or willfully intimidated Clementi
because of his sexuality.
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.
New Jersey lawmakers
hastened passage of an anti-bullying law because of the case, and
Rutgers changed its housing policies to allow people of the opposite sex
to room together in an effort to make gay, bisexual and transgender
students feel more comfortable.
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
Testimony came from about 30 witnesses
over 12 days, including 32-year-old M.B. Ravi himself did not testify,
though the jury watched a video of his interrogation by police.
and Clementi, both 18-year-old freshmen from comfortable New Jersey
suburbs, had been randomly assigned to room together, and Clementi had
arrived at college just a few days after coming out to his parents as
A string of students testified they
never heard Ravi say anything bad about gays in general or Clementi in
particular. But students did say Ravi expressed some concern about
sharing a room with a gay man.
On Sept. 19,
according to testimony, Clementi asked Ravi to leave their room so that
he could have a guest. Later, Ravi posted 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."
Ravi told police that he watched only seconds of the encounter via computer.
friend Molly Wei testified that she and a few other students also
watched the live stream of the men kissing. (Wei was initially charged
in the case but was later accepted into a pretrial program that will
allow her to keep her record clean.)
nights later, Clementi asked for the room alone again. This time, Ravi
tweeted: "I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12.
Yes, it's happening again." He also texted a friend about a planned
"viewing party" and allegedly went to friends' rooms to show them how to
access the feed.
However, there was no
evidence the webcam was turned on that night. Ravi told police he had
put his computer to sleep. Prosecutors argued Clementi himself unplugged
According to testimony,
Clementi submitted a room-change request form and talked to a resident
assistant about what happened. He also used his laptop to view Ravi's
Twitter site 38 times in the last two days of his life. He killed
himself Sept. 22.