Dharun Ravi listens to testimony during his trial at the Middlesex County Courthouse
An ex-Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate was convicted of invasion of privacy but cleared of some of the more serious charges of bias intimidation Friday.
Dharun Ravi, 20, was stoic as the jury rendered its mixed verdict in New Jersey’s Middlesex Country Superior Court after deliberating since Wednesday.
Ravi was accused of 15 counts after using a webcam to spy on roommate Tyler Clementi’s dorm-room tryst with another man in 2010.
Clementi, 18, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge three days after the spying incident.
The defendant, from Plainsboro, N.J., was also found guilty of witness and evidence tampering and hindering apprehension.
The case made national headlines in 2010 when Ravi was accused of using a webcam to peer into the Rutgers dorm room he shared with Clementi and caught him kissing an older man.
Ravi sent out tweets to tell his followers what had happened and encouraged them to webchat him to see the pair in action again two days later.
Evidence showed that Clementi, a quiet violin player who came out to his parents as gay a few days before starting Rutgers, read Ravi’s tweets and requested a room change from a Davidson Hall resident assistant, describing his roommate’s behavior as “wildly inappropriate.”
He updated his Facebook status to: “jumping off the gw bridge sorry” just four minutes before Ravi sent him a long text apologizing.
It is unclear if Clementi ever read the text.
The case lasted 13 days and jurors heard from about two dozens witnesses for the prosecution and nine for the defense — including numerous Rutgers students, police investigators and computer experts.
In summations, defense attorney Steven Altman argued his client was nothing more than an immature freshman who was playing a stupid prank which went horribly wrong.
He argued that Ravi had exhibited no anti-gay sentiments and was merely curious to see what Clementi and his male guest, identified only as M.B., were doing.
“Who wouldn’t be curious,” Altman said, “if it’s your room and all of a sudden in a dorm of 18 and 17-year-olds somebody comes in looking scruffy and homeless?”
Prosecutor Julia McClure argued that Ravi’s actions were motivated by homophobia and the desire to expose Clementi’s sexual orientation.