Rutgers webcam spying case verdict teaches parents a very valuable lesson
Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, 20, accused of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, was found guilty on charges of invasion of privacy and some charges of bias intimidation, considered the most serious. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge back in September 2010 when he found out that Ravi had spied on his sexual encounter with another man using a hidden webcam.
Sentencing has been set for May 21. Although jurors found him not guilty on some of the subparts of the 15 counts of the bias intimidation, he only had to be found guilty on one part of each count to be convicted.
Prosecutors had said from day one that his "acts were purposeful, they were intentional, and they were planned." But the jury didn't think that Ravi's actions were motivated to inspire fear in his roommate because of his sexual orientation, and so they found him not guilty of bias discrimination, which could've meant up to 10 years in prison and possible deportation back to India.
From the moment I learned about this case back in 2010, I too had mixed emotions about it. Like the jury, I like to think that Ravi was just being an immature student who had no idea (nor the intention) of the fatal consequence his stupid actions would bring about. However, the fact that he shared the web chat--which showed Clementi kissing an older man--on Twitter for all to see, speaks volumes to the fact that we still have such a long way to go in terms of teaching our children that someone's sexual orientation is not anyone's business.
I've no idea if Ravi is homophobic. His friends and dorm neighbors testified otherwise. But I do know that at some point, he must have realized that what he had done was absolutely unacceptable. A few minutes before Clementi announced in Facebook that he was "jumpling off the gw bridge sorry," Ravi sent him a long text apologizing. We'll never know if Clementi read, but in any event, it was too little too late.
Now Ravi must carry the burden of Clementi's death for the rest of his life. I can't imagine what that must feel like.
For me, one of the hardest things of being a parent is succeeding at making my children understand that every single action has a consequence. Every single one of them. Some are good, others bad. And then there are those that will change your life forever. I hope that Ravi's case will serve to show others the truth behind that.
Image via AP