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The Courts Privacy News

Rutgers Student Ravi Convicted of Bias Intimidation and Spying 714

In 2010, Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi used his computer's webcam to spy on the activities of his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, and commented about it publicly on Twitter. Days later, Clementi committed suicide. Ravi was indicted on 15 charges, going to trial last month. Now, reader doston sends word that the trial has ended, and Ravi has been found guilty on all 15 charges, though the jury returned a not guilty verdict on aspects of certain charges. "After less than three full days of deliberations, the five men and seven women of the jury found Dharun Ravi, 20 years old, guilty of invading the privacy of his 18-year-old roommate, Tyler Clementi, and his dorm-room date. They also found that Ravi was motivated by bias under a New Jersey hate-crime law that had been largely untested so far. ... The jury had been asked to decide Ravi’s motivations when he trained his webcam on Clementi and his date on two separate occasions in September 2010, in a case that set off a national conversation about cyber-bullying and treatment of gay youth. ... Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison on most serious bias intimidation convictions, but is likely to receive a lesser sentence based on sentencing guidelines because he is a first time offender. The India-born Ravi, who has spent most of his life in the U.S. as a permanent resident, faces the possibility of deportation as a result of his criminal conviction. He rejected a plea deal in December that would have kept him out of prison and offered him assistance with immigration authorities."
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Rutgers Student Ravi Convicted of Bias Intimidation and Spying

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  • Re:Damn unfortunate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crgrace ( 220738 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @02:47PM (#39380949)

    True, he didn't do anything worse than what you would see on the American Pie movies.

    But, the fact remains he is guilty of the crimes. It's like those kids you steal stop signs and street signs. Lot's of kids in my area used to do that. But only once that I know of did someone die because they didn't stop. Now the kids have involuntary manslaughter convictions and that is appropriate, even though probably dozens of kids did the same thing without being caught.

    My point is his actions certainly contributed strongly to the suicide. He did the crime. True, there are a lot of jerks in dorms all over the country, but they are lucky enough to not have people kill themselves over their actions.

    Lastly, even if you consider spying on someone having sex and displaying for others on a computer to be equivalent to assault, keep in mind he was also convicted of witness tampering and felony intimidation.

  • by project5117 ( 2550152 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @02:48PM (#39380969)

    I think that the anon above may have wanted to link this story address [] rather than the response to the story which was linked above (though that was also interesting).

    Thanks much at any rate for bringing our attention to the New Yorker; their writing is pretty well rounded, and the 14 page article is a bit longer than the other news treatments I've seen about the situation.

  • Re:Damn unfortunate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by g8oz ( 144003 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @02:57PM (#39381085)

    Being an asshole is not a criminal act, at least it shouldn't be. This case says more about the draconian, moralizing and punitive U.S justice system than anything else.

    There is a link between this case and the jack booted airport security gauntlet if you think about it. They point to a country that has lost perspective and is increasingly unhinged.

  • Re:Damn unfortunate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @02:59PM (#39381123)

    But even worse, Ravi is also going to have his life ruined by a man who decided to end his own.

    No, there is no "even worse". Someone is dead, and it isn't him. There are precious few situations in life in which surviving is a worse fate than dying: Getting deported, or spending 10 years in jail, is not on the short list.

    What Ravi did was punch in the nose wrong - not 10 years in prison and deportation.

    A jury of 12 people disagrees with your assessment. This wasn't some judge with an attitude problem: This was a law passed by elected representatives, in an open and accessible public forum, with ample opportunity for public discourse. It has been affirmed countless times by a majority -- and now has been affirmed unanimously by 12 randomly-selected people from that community. You are welcome to your opinion but as a matter of law, there is little doubt as to his guilt. That said, my opinion is that you are short-sighted and bigoted, and have probably done (or thought of doing) things like this because of your own homophobia. For someone like you, a verdict like this must be pretty scary.

    Heck, the stupid stuff we did on our floor in college was just as bad or worse. I'm sure 99% of every man who went to college in the dorms can say the same.

    And for the 1% of every man, would that be his sense of civic responsibility? The stupid stuff most people do is not motivated by a hatred or bias based on sexual orientation, race, or other immutable attributes of a person... as a rule, the stupid things people do in college comes down to matters of romance, and matters involving alcohol and a desire for peer acceptance.

    I'm appalled by your casual disregard for the seriousness of this person's crime: It was clearly motivated by a desire to embarass his victim, was clearly done because of the victim's sexual orientation, and in fact rises to the standard of malicious intent because he recorded it with the intention of making it public.

    I, for one, see no reason to invite more people into this country to practice hate crimes when we already have a full load of loonies and people trying to screw up our civil liberties as it is: If you're immigrating to another country, you don't do anything that could get you in trouble with the law. You have to be a model citizen, better even than the people you want to live with, at least until you get your papers. Maybe that's unfair, but that's the way it is, and if this guy gets deported it'll be (at the very, very least) because he was weapons-grade stupid. And that is nobody's fault but his own.

  • Re:Damn unfortunate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:00PM (#39381143) Homepage

    What part of "queer-bashing earns you a lifetime of payback" do people like Ravi not understand?

    Well, I don't think I'm like Ravi, and I don't feel sorry for him either, but I don't understand any of the above. An eye for an eye and all that.

    Further, I think it's fine to have criminal statues for bullying or intimidation, but adding "bias" to it is bullshit. All intimidation is biased, and the fact that a victim is a nerd or a jock or straight or gay or black or hispanic should have no bearing on the punishment. That's what equality means.

  • Pure B.S. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:04PM (#39381221)

    I have nothing against gay people (in fact I have good friends who are gay). But this is pure B.S. If the gay dude didn't kill himself the whole thing would've just been a typical episode of a stupid college prank that happens everyday across America.

    On a related note, I suspect the race/nationality of the "bully" and the "victim" also factored in the conviction. Imagine the roles were reversed... Well, you don't even need to imagine. There is an actual case where one guy literally beat the other to death with a baseball bat, and walked free with three years probation and a $3,000 fine + $780 court costs. []

    There is NO justice in this country.

  • Re:Damn unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mjeffers ( 61490 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:10PM (#39381299) Homepage

    First, we've already established for a long time that mindset matters. Each of these scenarios is a different crime with different sentencing guidelines

    1) Driving a car drunk with your spouse in it and getting into a crash where they die
    2) Walking in on your spouse cheating on you and killing them in the heat of the moment
    3) Meticulously planning how to kill your spouse over the course of several months

    In each case we have the same result (due to your actions, your spouse is dead) but we already recognize that your mindset (drunk, angry in the heat of the moment, systematically planning someone else's death) matters.

    Second, hate crimes are added on to other charges because hate crimes are actually a seperate crime. If you were driving drunk with a black friend in the car and crashed it's different than if you went and lynched someone. In the second case, you not only wanted to hurt the person directly involved but you wanted to send a message of intimidation to people like them.

    In this particular case, I think the jury did the right thing by rejecting the hate crime charges. It seems as it Ravi was dumb, insensitve and certainly invasive of his roomates privacy but it doesn't seem like this was a crime intended to intimidate the community.

  • Re:Damn unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:07PM (#39382119)

    That real issue here is not that Ravi recorded an intimate moment and broadcast it,

    Can we clear up one thing that was repeated all over the internet and is still being repeated here:

    There was no "broadcast."

    Ravi and one friend viewed something through a webcam for a few seconds. After that, on a subsequent evening when Ravi was asked to stay out of the room, he tweeted that he was going to set up a public viewing. For various reasons that I've read in conflicting accounts, this more public viewing never happened. (I believe Ravi claims he decided not to do it long before the time came.)

    So, the "invasion of privacy" seems to be based on two people across the hall spying through a webcam for less than a minute. This was certainly a jerk thing to do, but is it much different from two people across the hall quietly opening the door and peaking in? How many college students do this to spy on a roommate?

    I'm not speaking about possible bias or motivation or whatever, but the invasion of privacy did NOT involve a recording or broadcast, at least according to reliable news sources I've read.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.