New York, NY, March 16, 2012 … Responding to today's decision in the case of a former Rutgers University student accused of using his webcam to spy on his gay roommate, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called the guilty verdict against Dharun Ravi "a measure of justice" in a case that "highlighted the need for more education in society about the true dangers of cyberbullying."
Ravi, 20, was found guilty of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension and witness tampering for spying on his former Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi. Clementi committed suicide days after learning Ravi had covertly observed this encounter and encouraged others to watch through a camera on Ravi's computer.
Etzion Neuer, acting ADL New Jersey Regional Director, issued the following statement:
While he wasn't convicted on all counts, the jury did find that Dharun Ravi was guilty of bias intimidation, which is a hate crime. This verdict is a measure of justice and sends a strong message to anyone who would engage in cyberbullying that their actions could have serious legal repercussions. The case highlighted the need for more education in society about the true dangers of cyberbullying.
This trial stirred heated discussion about how we as a society define and respond to invasion of privacy, cyberbullying and hate crimes. This is a critically important conversation. When bias-related crimes and incidents occur, they demand a special response because of their unique psychological impact. By making members of certain groups fearful and angry, these incidents can damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities. But we must not lose sight of the institutional and societal contexts that allowed Ravi and his peers to think it was funny or okay to engage in anti-gay rhetoric and other biased behavior. Any number of young people might have found themselves in a similar situation.
As has been demonstrated in this case, the law is a blunt instrument when addressing these issues. The systemic problems of prejudice and bullying are best addressed through comprehensive anti-bias education – in school, at home, in religious and community settings - everywhere we educate children to be socially and emotionally productive. True justice for Tyler Clementi cannot be found in any verdict, but rather in schools and communities – when we work to ensure that no student feels socially isolated or marginalized.
ADL works to create safe, inclusive schools, universities, and communities by taking a holistic approach to addressing bullying, cyberbullying and hate crimes. The League develops anti-bias education and training programs and advocates (PDF) - at the state and federal level - for legislation, policies and programs that can help counter hate crimes and cyberbullying.