Jury weighs hate crime in gay bullying case

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:12pm EDT

Dharun Ravi (L), a Rutgers University student charged with bias intimidation, leaves the courtroom while the jury goes into deliberations in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County, New Brunswick March 14, 2012. A jury on Wednesday began deciding whether Ravi committed a hate crime when he used a webcam to spy on his college roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man in a case that put a national spotlight on gay bullying when Clementi committed suicide days later. REUTERS/ Mark Dye

Dharun Ravi (L), a Rutgers University student charged with bias intimidation, leaves the courtroom while the jury goes into deliberations in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County, New Brunswick March 14, 2012. A jury on Wednesday began deciding whether Ravi committed a hate crime when he used a webcam to spy on his college roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man in a case that put a national spotlight on gay bullying when Clementi committed suicide days later.

Credit: Reuters/ Mark Dye

Related Topics

Photo

Under the Iron Dome

Sirens sound as rockets land deep inside Israel.  Slideshow 

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (Reuters) - A New Jersey jury on Wednesday ended its first day of deliberations without deciding whether a former Rutgers University student committed a hate crime when he used a webcam to spy on his college roommate kissing another man.

The roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide days later and the case put a national spotlight on gay bullying.

The 12 jurors are weighing 15 charges against Dharun Ravi including bias intimidation, which carries a possible 10-year prison sentence, and lesser crimes of invasion of privacy and witness tampering that do not entail prison time for a first offender.

The jury deliberated for four hours on Wednesday before being dismissed for the day and ordered to begin again Thursday morning.

Ravi, now 20, is not charged in the death of Clementi, 18, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010, after learning his freshman roommate covertly saw him kissing another man and appeared to encourage others to watch through a camera on Ravi's computer.

To convict Ravi of bias intimidation, Judge Glenn Berman said jurors will have to decide Ravi singled out Clementi because he was gay.

"You need to have reason to believe that he was targeted," the judge said before turning the case over to the jury in Middlesex County Court in New Jersey. "The belief must be a reasonable one."

The seven women and five men on the jury were urged in summations by defense lawyer Steven Altman to dismiss Ravi's actions as those of a foolish child trying to impress others rather than a bully who harbored a prejudice against gays.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure in her closing said Ravi's messages about Clementi on Twitter and other social media, including one inviting others to a "viewing party" through a webcam aimed at Clementi's bed after he asked for the room alone, showed his animosity toward his gay roommate.

While the lesser charges do not carry prison sentences, if convicted Ravi, who is not a U.S. citizen, could be deported to India, where he was born.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Will Dunham)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
ldfrmc wrote:
Ravi invites others to a viewing party.

Governor of New Jersey invites total strangers to cast ballots on whether two people can ask each other to marry and then do so.

What’s the difference?

Governor can’t be deported.

Mar 14, 2012 7:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
LPATWILLFILM wrote:
The part of this story I think a lot of people are overlooking is that it seems to me this Ravi dude himself may be a Homosexual OR an extremely freaky Heterosexual. What person if you stumble upon someone having sex (straight or gay) would want to make a “show” out of that. That to me is a person who is a FREAK. If I stumble upon my roommate, friend or family member, really anybody in “that way” the first thing, I am going to do is “creep back” very slow, quitely and try not to cause a scene and hurry up get out of dodge!

The funny thing about sex… It is very unnerving and disturbing to accidentally stumble upon people doing it. So, only a freaky or freakish person would actually stand there and WATCH and even more freakier and freakish to put it on blast!!!

THIS RAVI GUY IS A CREEP NO MATTER HOW YOU SLICE IT!!!
But, I guess the question is, does it make him a “hate crime”
offender???? I don’t know. That one is a tough call.

Because it could possibly be “argued” the reason he continued
WATCHING his roomateand put it on blast is that he himself may have
homosexual feelings (deep down)and got pleasure out of watching it.

Otherwise, why would a straight man continue to watch two gay men in “that way” and record it? I almost feel as though this Ravi jerk
perhaps only put it on blast to try to “cover himself” for sticking around and watching that!

Mar 14, 2012 8:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.