Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers student who was accused of spying on and intimidating Tyler Clementi, his gay roommate who later committed suicide, faces a maximum of ten years in prison after jurors found him guilty on charges of invasion of privacy this morning. It was a mixed verdict.
The most serious charges in the Rutgers case centered on whether Ravi’s actions had constituted bias intimidation, meaning that he was motivated to inspire fear in the Ridgewood, New Jersey, native because of his sexual orientation. Those charges carry jail time of up to 10 years and possible deportation back to his native India.
Prosecutors have said that Ravi tried to embarrass Clementi because he was gay.
“These acts were purposeful, they were intentional, and they were planned,” prosecutor Julia L. McClure told the jury on the first day of the trial. Ravi “was bothered by Tyler Clementi’s sexual orientation,” she later said more bluntly.
Ravi’s attorneys have argued that their client acted thoughtlessly, portraying him as an immature college student who made a mistake, and that his actions were not based on homophobia.
“He hasn’t lived long enough to have any experience with homosexuality or gays,” said attorney Steven Altman in closing arguments earlier this week. “He doesn’t know anything about it. He just graduated high school.”
Ravi turned down a plea deal offered by Middlesex County prosecutors that would have allowed him to avoid jail time in exchange for undergoing counseling, doing 600 hours of community service and disposing of any information that could identify the man who appeared in the web video with Clementi.
Prosecutors also offered to help Ravi avoid deportation, though they said they could not guarantee it. Ravi, who had been studying on a visa at the New Jersey university, did not testify on his own behalf.
The legal side of this case has been resolved for now. But everyday life for the nation’s queer youth goes on. For more on how to create safe spaces and combat bullying, check out Kyle Bella’s five tips.