Dharun Ravi guilty of bullying Tyler Clementi
Dharun Ravi was found guilty late last week of all 15 charges related to bullying and spying on his former gay Rutgers University roommate Tyler Clementi in the days leading up to his decision to commit suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Clementi’s suicide made international headlines and his death quickly transformed into a symbol of the struggles young gay people continue to face across schools and universities around the world.
Prosecutors had charged Ravi, 20, with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other offences relating to his deliberate setting up of a webcam to capture Clementi engaging in sexual acts with another man in September 2010 which he then commented about over social networking site Twitter urging others to watch.
Indian-born Ravi (pictured) now faces about 10 years imprisonment and potential deportation despite having lived in the US since he was a young child.
Clementi jumped to his death on September 22, 2010, only days after learning that Ravi had on two separate occasions tried to film him without his knowledge.
Prior to last Friday’s verdict, the trial heard how Clementi, a biology freshman and a talented violinist, struggled with shyness and his sexuality, only revealing to his mother that he was gay just before leaving for university.
Following the verdict Clementi’s father, Joe, urged all college students and other young people to treat their peers with the courtesy and respect they deserve.
“You’re going to meet a lot of people in your life. Some of these people you may not like. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean you have to work against them,” he said.
A statement from Rutgers University echoed a similar message.
“This sad incident should make us all pause to recognise the importance of civility and mutual respect in the way we live, work and communicate with others.”
Shane L Windmeyer, the co-founder and executive director of Campus Pride, a leading national group for student leaders and campus organisations in the US, meanwhile said that despite the two-year saga, many LGBT students remained unsafe on campuses and at universities.
“Too many colleges across the country have yet to learn the lessons Rutgers was faced with in the aftermath of Clementi’s death. Less than 7 per cent of schools offer institutional support to LGBT students, such as an LGBT student centre or programs director.
“Only 13 per cent offer non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and just 6 per cent protect students on the basis of gender identity,” Windmeyer said.
“Will it take another suicide death or antigay national headline for these administrators to take proactive steps to protect their LGBT students?”
Ravi did not take the stand to testify in his defence, with his lawyers arguing throughout the case that he may have acted stupidly but was not motivated by homophobia or hate.
Ravi is expected to be sentenced on May 21.
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