NEW JERSEY — A former Rutgers University student was found guilty of a hate crime for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, a New Jersey jury said Friday.
Dharun Ravi, 20, was accused of secretly broadcasting an intimate encounter Clementi had with another man in their shared dorm room in September 2010, just days before Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi appeared calm as the verdict was read Friday morning, though he shook his head briefly after the jury finished.
He was found guilty of most of the 15 charges against him, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy, as well as tampering with evidence and witnesses. The jury found that Ravi knew his actions were intimidating Clementi, and Clementi felt that Ravi was targeting him because of his sexuality, the New York Times reported.
Ravi faces five to 10 years in jail and could also be deported to his native India, NorthJersey.com reported.
Ravi was not charged in Clementi's death, but the suicide hung over the trial. Prosecutors described 18-year-old Clementi's agitation upon learning that his roommate had spied on him during a sexual encounter with a man who was known only as M.B.
Clementi, a Rutgers freshman and talented violin player who had only recently come out to his family, read messages his roommate publicly posted on Twitter about seeing Clementi "kissing a dude."
Just a few days later, Clementi took the train into the city and made his way onto the George Washington Bridge, leaving behind a one-line Facebook post: "Jumping off the gw bridge. Sorry."
Ravi's defense attorneys did not dispute the facts of the case but described Ravi's actions as thoughtless, youthful indiscretions, rather than a homophobic hate crime.
Clementi's death and several other gay youth suicides in 2010 sparked the national "It Gets Better" campaign, in which gay celebrities and other prominent figures recorded encouraging messages to teens who feel isolated in their sexuality.
Twitter lit up with news of Ravi's verdict Friday, with many people praising the hate crime conviction.
"Dharun Ravi got what he deserved...," tweeted @k_schott2.
"Send Dharun Ravi back to India or wherever is worst for him...," @felipeNYC tweeted. "Don't forget, don't forgive what he did."
Late last year, Ravi turned down a plea deal that would have let him off with just probation and community service.
He will be sentenced May 21, according to reports.