03/16/2012 07:32 pm ET Updated May 16, 2012

A Shakespearean Tragedy: A Rutgers Story, Where Prejudice of Love Induces Death!

Today, March 16, 2012, a grand jury of the Middlesex County, N.J. Superior Court found Dharun Ravi, a 20-year-old former Rutgers student, guilty of:

  • BIAS INTIMIDATION, N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1(a)(1), (2) and (3)(b)
  • INVASION OF PRIVACY, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-9(a) and (c)
  • WITNESS TAMPERING, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5(a)(1)

The Facts

Dharun Ravi secretly spied on his 18-year-old freshman roommate, Tyler Clementi, a young violinist, by using a webcam to film his roommate's personal life. Ravi then used social media to invite and broadcast others to view and ridicule Tyler's sexual relationship. Ravi continued this invasion by attempting a second time to stream over the Web the intimate affairs of his unsuspecting roommate and also encouraged and invited others on Twitter to view this trespass.

On Sept. 22, 2010, just three days later, after learning that his roommate and others watched him through the computer-mounted camera, Tyler leaped off the George Washington Bridge to his tragic death. Tyler had gone online and observed Ravi's Twitter account 38 different times after the first webcam broadcast of his intimate life. Tyler had complained and requested a room change before being consumed by this great violation.

Ravi now faces the possibility of a long prision sentence, and of being deported as a result of his conviction. Ravi is an Indian citizen who grew up in New Jersey but turned down a deal from the prosecutor's office offering no prison time and legal assistance for possible future deportation litigation.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman instructed the jury of seven women and five men that the key issue in deciding whether to convict the Ravi of bias intimidation was determining if he singled out his freshman roommate because of Tyler's sexual oreintation.

Judge Glenn Berman scheduled Ravi's sentencing hearing for May 21, 2012. In New Jersey bias intimidation based on an individual's sexual orientation is considered a hate crime. Ravi could receive a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison for that conviction alone.

My Perspective

What a sad tragedy when hate blackens love and destroys young lives. What a horrible act it is to have one's love and affection for another used to ostracize and expel a young man from an academic community engineered to expand and promote diversity, freedom, and intellectual expression. What a tragedy that Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, hosted this tragic play. Tyler, the young man whose whole life was before him, felt his only freedom from scorn was the fleeting seconds while the wind brushed against him as he leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

"This day's black fate on more days doth depend: This but begins the woe others must end."
--William Shakespeare,
Romeo and Juliet, 3.1