Dharun Ravi's Own Words Led to Conviction, Juror Tells ABC News

Rutgers student found guilty of spying and intimidating Tyler Clementi.

ByABC News
March 14, 2012, 5:24 PM

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., March 16, 2012— -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was found guilty of a hate crime today for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, and a juror told ABC News that Ravi's own words were used to convict him.

Ravi, 20, was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.

Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay. Leverett noted that the jury did not think Ravi intended to intimidate Clementi, but that his actions caused Clementi to feel intimidated.

Clementi's case gained national attention when he committed suicide shortly after the spying by jumping off the George Washington Bridge Sept. 22, 2010. Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.

Three of the convictions carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, and is in the U.S. on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing. The US deports most criminals convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.

He is scheduled to be sentenced May 21.

Kashad Leverett, one of 12 jurors to convict Ravi, told ABC News that the interrogration video of Ravi meeting with investigators helped them come to the conlusion that Ravi was guilty of invasion of privacy. On the video, Ravi is seen admitting to prosecutors that he purposefully spied on Clementi.

"Invasion of privacy (stuck out)," Leverett said, "and also the fact that he actually confessed in his statement, which was very intellectual to us because how can we go against his word?"

Ravi's lawyer Steven Altman ended his defense by playing the interrogation video in full, apparently hoping Ravi's calm demeanor would convince the jury that his actions had not been malicious.

Leverett said he initially doubted that Ravi had committed a hate crime, but after reading the statute of law presented to the jury, everyone agreed Ravi's crimes met the criteria.

"In my opinion I didn't think it was a hate crime until we were presented with an indictment (that explained the law)," Leverett said.

The jury did not take into consideration that Clementi committed suicide or that Ravi would face jail time for the convictions, Leverett said. He said the jurors did not know that Ravi could be deported if convicted.

Lynn Marie Audet, another juror, said the jury did not reach their decision easily.

"Every topic was taken very seriously. We did not jump to any decisions. We did the most thorough job that we could. There was nothing that we just said 'guilty' immediately," Audet told WABC.

Clementi's mother, who sat with her husband and sons in the front row for the duration of the three-week trial, broke down in tears as the first "guilty" verdicts were read. Clementi's father took notes throughout the reading of the verdicts.

After the verdict, Clementi's father Joe sent a message to young people, saying, "You're going to meet a lot of people in your life. Some of these people you may not like. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean you have to work against them."

Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, put his arm around Ravi's shoulder shortly before the verdict. Ravi showed little reaction as the jury read out the verdicts to his crimes.

Ravi had previously rejected a plea deal that would have spared him any jail time or the threat of deportation, but put him on probation and would have required him to perform community service.

"It's reasonable to assume we would have never heard of Dharun Ravi without the death of Tyler Clementi," Cuomo noted.

The prosecutor said she will discuss sentencing with both the Clementi's and the man who was in Clementi's dorm room when the spying occurred, who has been identified only by his initials M.B., before submitting recommendations to the judge.

M.B. said through a lawyer last week that he did not believe Ravi should go to jail.

Ravi was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted.

ABC News' Chris Cuomo, who has been following the case closely, said the counts and subcounts were a tactical move by the prosecution to build a stronger case against Ravi.

"It was a complicated verdict, but it was good tactic by the prosecution to build as strong a case as they could. This jury convicted Dharun Ravi of everything it reasonably could have," he said.

Because of the "atypically thin evidence" of actual bullying in the case, the jury had to convict Ravi of a hate crime based on other testimony, Cuomo noted.

"No one said Dharun Ravi didn't like gays, no one said Ravi went after Clementi because he was gay. The jury had to extrapolate that from case," he said.

Throughout the trial, Middlesex County Prosecutor Julie McClure tried to build a case that Ravi spied on Clementi's date because his roommate was gay, and told his friends and Twitter followers to also spy on Clementi, describing his actions as an anti-gay hate crime.

She argued that Clementi was clearly made uncomfortable by Ravi's actions, evidenced in Clementi's request for a room change that he submitted to Rutgers on Sept. 21.