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back to article Rutgers student guilty, faces 10 years for webcam spying

Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is facing a possible ten years in prison after he used his webcam to spy on a gay roommate and broadcast the resulting video. In 2010, Ravi's 18-year old roommate, Tyler Clementi, was filmed with an unidentified partner by Ravi and a friend, who then showed the footage around their campus and …

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Serves him right!

If only just to bring awareness to the problem of cyber-bullying. I can't think of a lower, evil and harmful way bringing someone down. Heard stuff like this is going on using txt-ing and mobile mms too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Serves him right!

No "cyber" necessary. Covert recording has been around much longer than smartphones.

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Serves him up

"I can't think of a lower, evil and harmful way bringing someone down."

I can:

Torturing a witness to give evidence against an accused man.

Not so evil is coercing a witness by offering them a deal > 10 year or 300 hours.

I am not sayine who is right or wrong, the judge and jury had that job. All I am saying is that someone's evidence wasn't unbiased.

Was it!

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WTF?

Re: Serves him up

Your way off!

A deal would not be offered unless there was substantial evidence to back-up the charges. So her testimony was icing on the cake!

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Re: Serves him up

I seem to remember that in America less than 10% of cases go to trial the rest are plea bargained.

Now either the prosecutions cases are almost always fantastic fantastic, or the threat of draconian sentences if you do not bargain and lose leads some innocent people to accept the bargain. (600Hrs Vs 10 years is a hell of an incentive to accept.)

http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv26n3/v26n3-7.pdf

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Serves him up

He was offered essentially the same deal she was, so there's no icing on the cake.

Look, I'd be offended to be forced to live with a gay roommate. But I'm seriously more offended that this wanker filmed it and spread it around.

I don't buy the 'he didn't know what he was doing" line of crap and neither did the jury. If he was dumb enough to pass on the very generous plea bargain he deserves what he gets. Because frankly even with my aversion, if I were the prosecutor my best offer would have included at least a year and a day for manslaughter. You don't have to approve of the gay lifestyle to know that some things are just wrong. Making somebody's private life public without their consent is one of those things, particularly in such a graphic way.

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Anonymous Coward

Tax Burden?

Let's not burden the taxpayers of New Jersey any more than they already have. Simply deport him back to India and make sure that the nasty little shite never gets into the United States again.

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Facepalm

Personally I think it's insane

I'm not sure which is a bigger steaming pile, the grammatically nonsensical and highly subjective "bias intimidation" or the trumped up evidence tampering charge (which if anybody recalls is the same thing they got the Palin email "hakcer" on).

Bonus squares are fun in Scrabble but they make a lousy basis for a justice system. I say get him for invasion of privacy, maybe harassment or something of the sort. That was the real crime. Punish him for that. All these stupid "bonus" crimes they tack on have little or nothing to do with justice, they're only trying to get the highest score (measured in years behind bars) for the prosecutor, and possibly terrify people into taking plea deals (which works equally well regardless of guilt).

He's certainly an idiot, probably an asshole and possibly a bully, but so are lots of people. He did nothing worse than many, it was just unlucky for both of them that his target apparently couldn't take any more. I seriously doubt punishing this man disproportionately will make the world any safer.

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Re: Personally I think it's insane

You are right about the "hate crime" stuff. That's unnecessary, biased and stupid. I someone kills someone else (for example), it shouldn't matter whether he did it because he disagreed with his sexual orientation or just to steal his wallet. This "hate crime" thing is actually turning pure greed into a mitigating circumstance.

But in this precise case, why did he refuse the plea deal? 600hrs of community service doesn't seem disproportionate for being the little piece of shit he has been in that case, and he sure sounds like he can use the counselling.

He has done considerably worst than most bullies, and that's in no way comparable to Palin's email "hacker". A list of e-mail subjects showing that she had been doing State-related stuff from her private adress, vs diffusing a sextape to all the victim's social circle? Seriously? Even without the gay/suicide angle there's no comparison.

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Devil

Re: Personally I think it's insane

"I seriously doubt punishing this man disproportionately will make the world any safer."

I think it will. We can not allow his kind, the bullies I mean, to contaminate the gene pool further. If you take him out of the loop for 10 years or more, he will have less children. With any luck, he won't have any at all.

It's a long term project.

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Flame

Re: Personally I think it's insane

Why not castration ? I mean, the Nazis did that for the crime of being of the wrong "race". And when they are at it, I think they should send you to the eastern front.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Personally I think it's insane

600 hours and back to the shanty towns to scrape a living or 10 years free room and board, education and loads of support and legal counsell for free and the possibility of finding a loophole by continuous free legal team?

bet you can guess why

welcome to the land of the free (services to criminals that is)

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Re: Personally I think it's insane

"shanty towns" etc

It might astonish you to know that some people in India have education, permanent housing and earn a good living.

And the food's way better than the USA too.

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Anonymous Coward

Plea deal...

"He faces ten years in prison and deportation to his native India, after turning down a plea deal that would have seen him do 600 hours of community service and receive counseling."

How is this supposed not to corrupt justice? - even if innocent you would be a fool not to plead guilty.

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Re: Plea deal...

Except that he never claimed innocence. As much as I share your view in some cases, in this one I see the bargain plea more as an opportunity to actually prove that it was just a stupid misguided prank gone horribly wrong.

Refusing the offer and then basing the defense on the same argument was in my opinion quite insane. Refusing such a bargain plea only makes sense if you are going to plead non-guilty. Now it is established that he was indeed guilty (even if he pleads non-guilty on appeal -assuming that's even possible-, who is going to believe it?), and that he is not wanting to make penance. He should fire his landshark.

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Big Brother

Re: Plea deal...

The issue isn't whether he is guilty or not, the issue is whether plea-bargains corrupt the judicial process. If 10 years is the appropriate, there is no way he should have been offered 600 hours service. If 600 hours community service is appropriate, he should not going away for 10 years.

Certainly, he's an odious and despicable person, but that doesn't mean the judicial process is ok. The punishment needs to fit the crime and 10 years is not a fit punishment for this action, regardless of the tragic outcome. This should have been a harassment/privacy invasion case. I guess that's hard to convict on when you share a room, but the answer is not to exaggerate the charges.

Personally I'm against the hate-law constructs. It bases punishment on motive rather than action. It is thought-morality legislation and spells the end of liberal society. We can no longer agree to disagree, instead we must all think the same. That is not liberal.

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Re: Plea deal...

landshark - i like that! thumbs up! i will be using that in future...

the thing i wonder is.... if the roommate had been straight, and it had been leaked out, would he be in such trouble? isnt it hard to try and claim the 'bias/homophobic' side of things? maybe he just didnt like him? have they found evidence of him being homophobic?

im not backing him up, as he sounds like a total twat, but how do we KNOW (not guess).

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Re: Plea deal...

When someone winds up dead, it's not just a harassment/privacy invasion case.

I can disagree with hate crimes aspect, but this is a carrot and stick case. The carrot was an especially lenient plea bargain. The stick might be bigger than I'd like, but when you tempt the fates with a trial when the prosecution has you cold, you're a fool.

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@Citizen Kaned

I think if the roommate had been straight but of a strict fundamentalist sect and it had gotten out, and the roommate had committed suicide he'd been in similar trouble, we just wouldn't know about it. Probably not 10 years for murder trouble, more like 5 years for manslaughter, but also without an option for a community service plea deal.

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Anonymous Coward

Ignorance is not a valid defense.

@Old Handle: You are right in the sense that if the victim had not killed himself, the crimes would probably have gone unpunished. What you are forgetting is that lots of people getting away with something does not make it ok.

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No, of course not. But ignoring the problem 95% of the time, and overreacting the other 5% is a terrible solution. Perhaps the worst part, is that it's to some extent a self perpetuating situation. Next time some bully does something similar people (possibly including the victim) might think "That was bad, but he doesn't deserve 10 years in jail, I better not say anything". Or maybe "He sure is an asshole, but it's not like it was hate crime or anything, so I guess it's not that serious."

I'm not saying it would be better to do nothing, but the approach we seem to have is a truly sorry substitute for consistency.

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Stop

What.

"He hasn't lived long enough to have any experience with homosexuality or gays,"

Um. He's an adult. Last time I checked, you needed to be an adult or have adult permission to be in college. Not to mention this is a message that Ravi sent the fellow before he jumped:

"I've known you were gay and I have no problem with it. In fact one of my closest friends is gay and he and I have a very open relationship. I just suspected you were shy about it which is why I never broached the topic. I don't want your freshman year to be ruined because of a petty misunderstanding, it's adding to my guilt. You have a right to move if you wish but I don't want you to feel pressured to without fully understanding the situation."

He KNEW that he was gay and had a friendship with a gay person. Yeah, no, he was an asshole, a sociopathic one at best, and I hope the fellows in prison pass him around, I hope he turns into a good wife there.

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Stop

Ignorance also is not a good basis for comments.

See: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/02/06/120206fa_fact_parker

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FAIL

demanding your right to trial by Jury costs you ten years?

This is the issue I have with plea bargaining. 600 hours of community service is nothing. Now he is looking at ten years because he wanted to be tried by a jury of his peers. That is his right, he should not be penalized for it. The 600 hour community service offer implies to me the DA didn't think he had a case.

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Re: demanding your right to trial by Jury costs you ten years?

Perhaps the DA really thought he didn't have a case. Perhaps he was wrong and he did have a case.

The guy turned down the 600 hours because he thought he could get away with it. That was another mistake. I hope they throw the book at him.

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Re: demanding your right to trial by Jury costs you ten years?

You're right about that. He should have taken the 600 hours. In fact *I* would have seriously considered accepting that offer myself, even though I've never set foot in New Jersey.

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Re: demanding your right to trial by Jury costs you ten years?

The offer was "admit you played a misguided prank that went wrong and take a slap on the wrist, or try to get away with it and face the consequences", in my opinion.

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Am I the only person shocked that, in the 21st century, the university expects strangers to share bedrooms?

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Don't know why your shocked... its typically the American way, pack 'em in and pack 'em high...

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Anonymous Coward

re: pack 'em in and pack 'em high

kinda like every uk seaside town...

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WTF?

Me too

I know it happens but it does still amaze me too.

When I was at university, when my father was at university and when my grandfather was at university we all had our own rooms like all students that I'm aware of in the UK. The idea of having to share a room with a complete stranger at an important time of your life is hugely unappealing.

Where do you take girls when you don't have your own room? I genuinely don't understand.

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Re: I genuinely don't understand.

The university's position is that you are there to learn not to have sex.

The students typically come to an arrangement for alone time in the room. You'll have other friends on campus and you might crash with them when your roomie has a "friend" over.

What you'll probably find even more amazing is that even outside of uni housing, students still group up with other people they might not know to share rooms and still have the same issues.

And as long as you are both reasonably normal, there is a good chance you'll become decent friends in fairly short order. My first two years were spent with a pre-med student. We didn't have any issues, but then neither of us ever brought "friends" back to the room either. We actually were there to study.

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Anonymous Coward

Really

"He hasn't lived long enough to have any experience with homosexuality or gays."

It won't take him much longer to get some experience.

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Coat

Re: Really

He's going to spend 10 years with his new room mate, Bubba... who will INSIST he picks up the soap!

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Stop

Fuck all "Prison Rape" jokes.

Seriously. I hate them. I expect better from The Register and all its commenters.

Look at this way: Ravi's going to have a couple of long miserable years to reflect on what he did - and that's before he gets expatriated back to his home country in shame. It's may break him. It may lead to contrition. I don't know. But that's what the justice system is for. He did wrong, and so he gets prison. Adding rape on top of that is cruel and unusual and unnecessary.

As for "Bubba" himself: if he likes raping fellow prisoners, he should be doing time in solitary. And any prison guards and administrators who allow such things to come to pass should be doing time themselves.

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Pirate

Re: Fuck all "Prison Rape" jokes.

Sorry kiddies, but doing time is about the most boring thing ever. It's more like being in the military and confined to base. Prison rape is totally blown way out of proportion. There are enough homosexuals in prison, that a straight inmate rarely get raped. The gay guys, who have ittle to no family financial support, can make a few bucks for purchasing things from the canteen. That's about it. A fist fight breaks out once in awhile usually because some idiot has it coming as they brought it on themsevles. On fried chicken day, if a fight broke out and the guards sprayed mace all over the place, you could wave your piece of chicken in the air to pick up some added flavor. You adjust, and one day you get out. What is inbetween is a LOT of boredom. I kept a 4.0 in my college courses which I could never do in college on the outside. It's that boring!

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Electronic Unintended Consequences.

Passing up that Plea Bargain opportunity, and then as a result of this jury trial being found Guilty serves that snarkily arrogant young bastard right. Deport him. Why have the State of New Jersey feed and house him at N.J. taxpayer expense?

His Indian passport should be hand carried by a U.S. law enforcement officer directly to the Air India manager at Kennedy Airport where he'll be escorted onto the first available flight to India, all at his own expense.

Ravi should carry always within his emotional baggage the stark realization that in all probability his webcam caper was the final straw which caused Clementi to jump from the GW Bridge.

This Ravi has no doubt learned that electronic hanky-panky can have grotesque unintended consequences. ....hopefully this lesson will be absorbed by all of his generation.

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Blighty

Ravi should study in blighty - he would have never been prosecuted in the UK, the uni would have covered it up to keep a paying customer and even if it went to trial, a judge would have given him a slapped wrist as gay bashing is acceptable in many large cities (such as London) - even the Met police get away with it these days.

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WTF?

Re: Blighty

Care to give any citations for those bare assertions?

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Anonymous Coward

Higher education

This should prove to be a learning experience. Bubba has lots of things to teach people.

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FAIL

arrogant prick

He should have taken the plea bargain especially since he knew he was guilty.

He was arrogant in deciding he had a right to invade his room mate's privacy, arrogant in judging someone based on sexuality, arrogant in tweeting and texting. He was arrogant in trying to cover up the evidence and last of all arrogant in thinking he could get away in a trial.

I feel some pity for the little shit though. The competence of his lawyer(s) would also come into question here.

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Anonymous Coward

It's called personal responsibility

It's a new concept to many yoof.

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Now What If You Go To A Whore

.. and your wife then decides to commit suicide ? Is it then a nasty crime which should be punished by 10 or maybe 100 years (that's America after all) in jail ???

Certainly some feminists can rationalise this thinking into being "justice".

What this guy did was a nasty invasion of privacy, but it is completely rotten logic to punish him for the victim being dead now. And 10 years for invasion of privacy, what's that ??? I say it is Stalinist, nothing short of that. But it meshes nicely with Gitmo, so maybe they are just consistent.

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Anonymous Coward

"jumping the George Washington bridge"

All the more unfortunate that he was a superhuman athlete as well.

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Anonymous Coward

How's that denial working now?

Not so well I imagine.

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What his friend Molly Wei is she above the law?

"Wei, 19, has been admitted to a pre-trial intervention program that could result in the charges against her being dismissed."

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Anonymous Coward

The 600 hours community service vs 10 years in prison does seem very disproportionate but it is also indicative of another major flaw in the U.S. justice system in which 10 years very rarely means 10 years.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a learning experience

Prison should be quite a learning experience and a reality check.

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Anonymous Coward

Dodgy goings-on

Let's face it Ravi was an asshole, he doesn't come off as homophobic, just an asshole. However, if 'MB' had turned out to be some kind of dodgy geezer, possibly even murderer, Ravi would be hailed as a hero by now.

What college student, straight or gay, invites a 25 year old stranger to their dorm for sex? I can empathise that Ravi felt a little nervous about what was going on and that at least excuses the first webcam viewing (not the second).

If this had been a 25 year old bloke coming into a 16 year old teen girls dorm on the same pretenses, I imagine there'd be a lot of different questions aimed in the other direction.

Either way some perspective is needed here, either that or American Pie should be classed as a crime drama and not a comedy.

Oh and can we drop the use of "cyber"? We're supposed to be IT literate here.

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Gimp

Re: Dodgy goings-on

except that he invited the whole world to view the affair. that was deliberate and selfish and down right stupid. let bubba learn the kid some perspective.

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