Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, 19,was found guilty of using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, in a charge described as a 'hate crime'.
Days after Clementi's homosexual encounter with an older man was captured and streamed on webcam by his former roommate, the student committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York.
The incident took place in September 2010. Previous hearings and evidence provided by witnesses suggested that Ravi had no issues with his roomate's sexual orientation, but a New Jersey jury sided with prosecutor's arguments that Ravi invaded the privacy of his housemate by live-streaming the encounter.
A witness in the case, Molly Wei, was part of a group of students who viewed the footage on a computer, which consequentially resulted in gossip and rumours spreading through the dorm, potentially to both the mortification of the student who committed suicide three days later.
The students viewed what has been described as a few moments of 'kissing', and it has been reported that Ravi shared the 'viewing' on social networking site Twitter, returning to continue the story when Clementi again requested room privacy for a few hours:
"I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again."
Ravi has also been charged with one count of motivation fueled by bias against homosexuals. In total, 15 charges resulted in a guilty verdict; including 4th degree invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence, and witness tampering.
Former federal prosecutor, Paul Callon, told CNN:
"If you engage in cyber-bullying by broadcasting this kind of information you are facing very serious jail time."
Ravi will be sentenced on 20 May. Although more minor charges of bias-intimidation were dropped, the former Rutgers student still faces up to ten years in jail and possible deportation back to India.
The high profile case, which may set a legal precedent, does not only raise questions for the legal system in terms of cyber-bullying, but also highlights just how dangerous posting private material online can be -- and how using technology in such a fashion can result in serious conviction.
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