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YouSpeak: Is the Rutgers Case a Hate Crime?

Court decision could broaden definition

| From BU Today | By Devin Hahn and Joe Chan

Watch this video on YouTube
In the video above, students give their opinions on the timely, contentious issue of hate crime—specifically, in
the recent court case involving a former Rutgers student.

On March 16 former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was convicted on charges of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation after he used a webcam in September 2010 to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having sex with another man, and then invited others to watch the feed. Clementi committed suicide three days after classmates viewed the video.

The case drew national headlines. Prosecutors, who said Ravi had targeted Clementi specifically because he was gay, argued that this was a classic case of bias intimidation and a hate crime. Others say that it wasn’t a typical case of bias intimidation and that the defendant was the victim of an overzealous prosecutor. After three days of deliberation, the jury found Ravi guilty on each of the 15 counts he faced, including 4 counts of bias intimidation. The two most serious counts each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. (Ravi, who was born in India, could also face deportation, since he is not a U.S. citizen.) He is to be sentenced on May 21.

The jury’s decision is expected to significantly broaden the definition of what constitutes a hate crime.

This week’s “YouSpeak” asks: “Is secretly taping your gay roommate having sex a hate crime?”

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