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NJ Gay Rights Groups React To Dharun Ravi Verdict In Rutgers Spycam Trial

New Jersey’s gay rights groups weigh in on Dharun Ravi’s verdict in the Rutgers webcam spying case.

Steven Goldstein, Chair and CEO of Garden State Equality
Steven Goldstein, Chair and CEO of Garden State Equality (Garden State Equality)

Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers student accused of  using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, who later committed suicide, has been found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

The jury reached a split verdict during its third day of deliberations in the trial.

Ravi shook his head as the verdict was read. The jury found he used a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi in Sept. 2010 and that he did it and told others about it because of a bias against gays.

Each bias intimidation charge included five questions. A finding of guilty on any of them made Ravi guilty of the entire charge.

The jury issued a split verdict on those sub-questions, finding him not guilty on some sub-parts of some counts, but guilty of all 15 counts as a whole.

“It sends such a serious message that intimidation and harassment of Clementi’s sexual orientation is not to be tolerated under law,” said Hayley Gorenberg, director of Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization dedicated to the civil rights of the gay and lesbian community.

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Gorenberg said she hopes the case shines a spotlight on anti-gay intimidation.  “I hope this means that we are moving as a society toward the end of anti-gay sentiments and the toll it takes on our young people.”

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay rights advocacy group,  issued a statement shortly after the verdict saying that Ravi’s text messages, “clearly demonstrated that he was deeply uncomfortable with Tyler Clementi being gay and that he would not have invaded the privacy of a straight roommate.”

Goldstein said they is no winner here, given the fact that Dharun Ravi may spend time behind bars and that Tyler Clementi lost his life, “But we do believe this verdict sends the important message that a ‘kids-will-be-kids’ defense is no excuse to bully another student.”

“As for all of us, we must continue our focus on building a better world, one free of bullying of every student, so that a tragedy like this never happens again. That’s what New Jersey’s new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the country’s strongest anti-bullying law, is ultimately about,” Goldstein stated.

The most serious charges, bias intimidation based on sexual orientation, a hate crime, carry up to 10 years in prison each.

Dharun Ravi’s sentencing is set for May 21st.

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