US jury begins deliberations in Dharun Ravi case
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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.


First Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012, 21:28

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