While Dharun Ravi, now 20, thought he was just playing an innocent practical joke on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, it was decided today in court that it was not a joke, but indeed a hate crime. Ravi captured Clementi’s sexual encounter with an older man and showed it on a webcam to countless classmates in 2010. Devastated by the fact that he was displayed by his roommate to so many strangers, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge soon after finding out. Now this childish act could possibly cost Rhavi his freedom, as well as the opportunity to stay in the United States.
The jury came down with the verdict after 12 hours of deliberation, and Ravi will be sentenced on May 21, facing up to 10 years in prison, as well as possible deportation. Ravi is an Indian citizen who spent the majority of his life in the U.S. He is currently free on bail, but had to turn over his passport. And while Rhavi and his attorney were hoping to push the idea that it was just a misguided prank by an immature freshman, Ravi’s own instant messages and emails around the time of the crime were the nail in the coffin: “Roommate asked for room till midnight. Went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Those type of statements, along with the fact that Ravi tried to tape Clementi’s sexual encounters with the same man not just once, but twice–but he was stopped when Clementi found out what was going on–didn’t help him at all.
Ravi was convicted on ALL 15 counts, including two counts of bias intimidation based on sexual orientation (a hate crime), invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence and witnesses. Last year, Clementi’s family said they didn’t want the punishment for Rhavi to be too harsh. They spoke out today after the verdict was read.
“The trial was painful for us, as it would be for any parent who must sit through and listen to people talk about bad things that were done to their child.”
While I hope they don’t deport Ravi, and that in the end, he doesn’t wind up with all 10 possible years in prison, I can understand why someone would think that sort of punishment would be necessary for him. We clearly live in a time now where bullies are pushing young people way too far (to other acts of violence or suicide), and not much is being done about it. Therefore, if this can open some young person’s eyes to the consequences of their own actions…then sadly, so be it.
Do you think he should have been found guilty? Was it a childish prank gone wrong, or was he acting out of hate?
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