Rutgers Student Trial: Jurors Mull Over Hate Crime Charges
The trial of a former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on a gay encounter involving his roommate has gone to a jury that will deliberate hate crime issues.
Dharun Ravi fitted a webcam in the dorm room he shared with 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, and then tweeted links to a live video stream online as Clementi had an intimate encounter with another man on September 19.
On September 22, Clementi committed suicide, leaping to his death from George Washington Bridge.
Though he is not connected directly with Clementi’s death, Ravi faces 15 charges, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. The trial pivots on how Ravi has been portrayed. If he is prosecuted for hate crime, the 18-year-old could spend ten years in jail.
Middlesex County first assistant prosecutor Julia McClure claimed Ravi had never wanted a gay roommate, and argued his actions were malicious and criminal. Clementi was deeply worried by Ravi’s many tweets about the incident, argued McClure, and this indirectly led to his suicide.
Defense attorney Steven Altman countered that Ravi had acted childishly, rather than criminally. He asked the court: “If there’s hate in Dharun’s heart, if there’s ugliness in Dharun’s heart, where’s there some information and some evidence to support it?”
Both the prosecution and defense completed their summations on Tuesday, and the New Jersey jury will now consider the hate crime charges.
More than two dozen witnesses testified in the case, including ‘M.B.’, the man who shared the gay encounter with Clementi, and Molly Wei, whose laptop Ravi used (with Wei’s full knowledge) to transmit the video.