educationtechnews.comRutgers case verdict: What it means for cyberbullies

Rutgers case verdict: What it means for cyberbullies

March 22, 2012 by Claire Knight
Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, Legal News

A former student was found guilty of all charges after he used a webcam to spy on his college roommate.

Two years ago, former Rutgers student Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

Clementi’s suicide came just three days after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, used his webcam to spy on Clementi having sex with another man in a Rutgers dorm room.

Now Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison after being convicted of a hate crime, including charges of:

  • invasion of privacy
  • bias intimidation
  • lying to investigators
  • trying to influence a witness, and
  • tampering with evidence.

Ravi also faces deportation to his native country of India.

The undisputed fact pattern in the case showed an electronic trail of evidence, including:

  • Twitter feeds that encouraged classmates to watch a second interlude between Clementi and his guest
  • questionable text messages from cell phone records that suggested trying to influence other witnesses, and
  • videos of surveillance cameras in Rutgers’ dorms.

Ravi’s attorneys argued that he set up the camera to prevent Clementi’s guest from stealing personal property rather than to spy on the couple.

But the jury didn’t buy it.

After deliberating for three days, the jury concluded that Ravi had targeted Clementi because he was gay.

Now what?

“This verdict sends the important message that a ‘kids will be kids’ defense is no excuse to bully another student,” chairman of Garden State Equality Steven Goldstein told The New York Times.

The outcome of the case may broaden the definition of hate crimes, which means more cyberbullies may potentially face criminal charges.

The defense plans to appeal.

We’ll keep you posted.

Did the jury make the right call? Chime in below — and don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

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  • Christine Hawkes

    Most certainly!


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