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Rutgers spycam case: why it's not open and shut

Dharun Ravi faces charges of, among other counts, invasion of privacy and witness and evidence tampering. The most serious charge – bias intimidation – could draw a 10-year sentence.


Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers University student charged with bias intimidation, listens during the jury selection phase of his trial in the Superior Court of Middlesex County in New Brunswick, N.J., on Feb. 22.

Ray Stubblebine/REUTERS

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Jury selection continued Wednesday in the highly charged webcam spying case of a former Rutgers University student accused of cyberbullying his gay roommate, who days later leaped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

Dharun Ravi has not been charged in the 2010 death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. But he faces 15 counts of invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, hindering prosecution, and the most serious charge – bias intimidation, a hate crime that could draw a 10-year sentence.

The case, now before Middlesex County, N.J., Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, has become a national symbol of antigay cyberbullying.

Mr. Ravi is alleged to have used a friend's computer to view an intimate encounter between Mr. Clementi and another man in the dorm room Clementi and Ravi shared. Ravi is also alleged to have invited friends to watch streaming video of another encounter a day later. The second viewing never took place and the invitation has been described by defense lawyers as just a joke.

As the digital trail of tweets, texts, and Web chats has been unearthed and parsed by defense lawyers and prosecutors since Clementi's death, what appeared at first to be an open-and-shut case has turned out to be anything but, legal experts say.


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