By George Anastasia, The Philadelphia Inquirer –
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation Friday for spying on his college roommate having a sexual encounter with another man.
The jury delivered its verdict shortly before noon, following more than two days of deliberations.
Ravi, 20, was convicted of both bias intimidation and attempted bias intimidation in a case that attracted national attention after Ravi’s roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after learning of the spying in September 2010. While Clementi’s death was not part of the charges, it was the overriding issue in the national debate.
Gay rights advocates said it underscored the problems of bullying and harassment suffered by homosexuals.
Ravi, who dropped out of Rutgers after being charged, could face a maximum sentence of 10 years for the bias intimidation charges.
Ravi, of Plainsboro, N.J., showed little emotion as the jury announced it verdicts.
A native of India who came to this country with his parents as a child, he could face deportation in addition to a prison term.
He had rejected an earlier plea deal that would have cut his prison term to five years instead of the 10 he now faces.
The jury, which deliberated for about 12 hours over three days, appeared to parse the issue of bias intimidation which was charged in four of the 15 counts.
Ravi was convicted of conduct that “caused” Clementi to be intimidated and to believe “that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation.”
But under each bias intimidation count, the jury rejected arguments that Ravi set out to invade Clementi’s privacy “with the purpose” to intimidate him.
In each count, the jury also rejected allegations that Clementi’s sexual partner, identified only as “M.B.,” was the target of bias intimidation.