Sunday, May 27, 2018

Alternate juror disagrees with Rutgers verdict

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — An alternate juror in the trial of a former Rutgers University student convicted in a webcam spying episode that ended in his gay roommate's suicide said he disagrees with the verdict.

James Downey told a newspaper on Saturday that he wouldn't have voted to convict Dharun Ravi on any charges related to allegations that his actions were motivated by anti-gay bias.

Prosecutors said Ravi set up his webcam in his dorm room and watched Tyler Clementi kissing another man on Sept. 19, 2010, then tweeted about it and tried to catch Clementi in the act again two days later. A half dozen students were believed to have seen the video of the kissing; no video was taken the second time.

As an alternate, the Woodbridge Township resident heard all the testimony but did not participate in deliberations. The jury, which returned its verdict Friday, was unanimous in finding Ravi guilty of all 15 charges, including invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation.

Ravi wasn't charged with causing or contributing to his roommate's death. Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge days after his intimate encounter with the other man.

"Whatever (Ravi) did was stupid, but I don't think he ever had any intention of intimidating (Clementi)," Downey said. "I think that scenario could have happened 100 different ways, whether he had a straight roommate who had a girlfriend over … there are 100 scenarios where he could have been goofing around and turning the camera on and it had nothing to do with somebody being gay."

Ravi could face five to 10 years in prison on the bias intimidation charges alone when he's sentenced May 21 and could be deported to his native India.

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