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Fri March 16, 2012
Rutgers Student Charged After Spying On Roommate
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A former Rutgers University student was found guilty today on 15 counts, including a hate crime. Dharun Ravi face charges related to spying via computer while his roommate had an intimate encounter with a man. The roommate, named Tyler Clementi, committed suicide soon afterward. The court case centered on tweets and a digital cache of texts and instant messages. Nancy Solomon of New Jersey Public Radio tells us about the verdict.
NANCY SOLOMON, BYLINE: The jury convicted Dharun Ravi of invasion of privacy, hindering a prosecution, tampering with evidence and bias intimidation, a hate crime. During the first incident, Ravi tweeted: roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly's room and saw him making out with a dude. Yay. Then two days later, Ravi tweeted I dare anyone with iChat to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again. The next day, his roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped off the George Washington Bridge. Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan says he feels gratified the jury empathized with Clementi and not Ravi as they listened to 13 days of testimony.
BRUCE KAPLAN: They, obviously, understood what he must have went through and what he felt based on their verdict. I think they empathized and accepted the evidence that Tyler believed that he was being targeted, and that he was doing everything he possibly could in order to deal with the situation.
SOLOMON: Ravi did not react visibly during the reading of the verdict, and he and his parents left the New Brunswick courthouse without commenting. The Rutgers University campus was shaken in September 2010 when news about Clementi's suicide and the webcam spying broke. Anastasia Millicker, an editor with the student newspaper, was in court today for the verdict. She says most students she's spoken with agreed that Ravi should be tried for a hate crime.
ANASTASIA MILLICKER: I felt that the verdict was done fairly. The jury did do a good job deliberating. And I thought as though they make a fair decision.
SOLOMON: Tyler Clementi's parents attended every day of the trial and rarely showed any emotion as their son's intimate encounter was detailed, both in testimony and from the digital record of texts between he and his lover. After the verdict, his father, Joe Clementi, read a statement that directly appealed to college, high school and middle school kids.
JOE CLEMENTI: When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell him. That's not right. Stop it. You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you.
SOLOMON: The Clementis have established a foundation to stop bullying of gay teenagers. Ravi now faces five years in prison for the invasion of privacy charge and an add-on sentence of five years for the hate crime, and the judge could add time for each separate count. Because he was born in India, Ravi also faces possible deportation. His sentencing is set for May 21st. For NPR News, I'm Nancy Solomon.
BLOCK: And the lawyer for Dharun Ravi said this afternoon at the appropriate time an appeal will be filed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.