Student found guilty of charges in webcam suicide case

Student found guilty of charges in webcam suicide case

Summary: A jury has found an ex-student guilty of 15 charges in the webcam case of Tyler Clementi.

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TOPICS: Privacy, Security, India
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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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Topics: Privacy, Security, India

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4 comments
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  • Student found guilty of charges in webcam suicide case

    This was murder, 10 years jail time then deport.
    It is reasonable to say,
    If Tyler Clementis??? privacy was not invaded he would not have suicided.
    This was so blatant no reasonable defence can be mounted.
    Homosexuality is not the issue, personal privacy is.
    texasbydand
  • Re: Student found guilty of charges in webcam suicide case

    I absolutely agree with the decision - this was blatantly an invasion of privacy, as one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy in one's home. No one can make anyone commit suicide, and any number of factors (both internal and external) can lead one to take his own life. Anyone who's calling this a murder is clearly confused about the definition of "murder".

    Finally, I must ask... what's with this "cyberbullying" buzzword appearing everywhere all of a sudden? You'd think it was some sort of national crisis. I was actually bullied as a child, and schools (by which I mean elementary and secondary schools - different from this case, I know) didn't care about that sort of thing. At least when the attacks are happening online, you can more easily ignore it than when you're getting the crap beat out of you on the playground for no reason. If schools didn't care when that was happening, why do they suddenly care about kids being harassed online?
    strickerj
  • Hope...

    I certainly hope he is not a "pretty boy" otherwise he will not survive 10 years.
    pmshah9
  • Does anyone proofread this site?

    "potentially to both the mortification of the student who committed suicide three days later"
    jrzinn