US jury begins deliberations in Dharun Ravi case

Last Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 21:34

New York: A US jury began its deliberations
in the trial of an Indian-origin student accused of spying on
his roommate`s sexual encounter with another man, a case in
which the 20-year-old faces possible deportation to India.

The jury`s deliberations which began yesterday, would
continue today on the 15 charges against former Rutger Dharun
Ravi, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation,
witness tampering and hindering prosecution.

Ravi`s lawyer Steven Altman had said Ravi was just a
"kid" who did not hate gay people and who made an "innocent
mistake" when he encouraged others to watch Clementi`s
encounter with the other man.

In the bias charges, the jury has to conclude if Ravi`s
roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi was "intimidated" by his
actions and "reasonably believed that he was selected to be
the target".

On the first day of the deliberations, the jurors - five
men and seven women - had asked Judge Glenn Berman of Superior
Court in Middlesex County for explanation of the definition of
"intimidate," as well as of the word "purpose," in relation to
the bias intimidation count.

The judge had ruled that the Ravi could be found guilty
of bias intimidation only if he was also found guilty of the
first charge, invasion of privacy.

Clementi would have been the victim of bias intimidation
if he had been made to feel fear.

"A person is guilty of the crime of bias intimidation,"
Berman said, "if he commits an offence with the purpose to
intimidate an individual because of sexual orientation."

The case was handed to the jury after nearly three weeks
of testimony by over 30 witnesses. The defence has maintained
that Ravi acted in an immature manner when he used a webcam to
spy on Clementi and was not prepared to see two men kissing.

The prosecution has however tried to convince the jury
that Ravi acted the way he did because he was not comfortable
with having a gay roommate and sought to intimidate Clementi
because of his sexual orientation.

If convicted on the most serious charge of bias
intimidation, which is a hate crime, Ravi faces a 10-year
prison sentence and possible deportation to India.

Clementi had committed suicide after he found out that
Ravi had seen him kissing another his partner and had invited
others to watch the encounter as well.

The defence and prosecution wrapped up their case on
Tuesday in a courtroom packed with members of family of both
Ravi and Clementi as well as reporters. The case has garnered
huge national attention here as it throws the spotlight on
bullying of young gays and lesbians.

PTI




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