“It was pretty hard to think about Tyler, because he wasn’t present to give his thoughts,” said Kashad Leverett, 20, of South Amboy, N.J., after he and 11 other jurors delivered a guilty verdict on all charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, on Friday. “But in the evidence that was provided, it showed that he believed he was being intimidated because of his sexual orientation.”...Clementi believed. But how does that reflect on Ravi?
The bias intimidation charges were the most difficult to agree upon, jurors said. And what tipped the scales there, they said, was that Mr. Ravi had discussed spying on Mr. Clementi not just once, but repeatedly, even inviting his online friends to watch Mr. Clementi and the other man in a second encounter.Cruel and unreasonable, but why is it bias intimidation?
That, said Ms. Audet, is what elevated the case from one of teenagers behaving cruelly and insensitively to a crime.
“To attempt a second time, is what changed my mind,” she said. “A reasonable person would have closed it and ended it there, not tweeted about it.”
An important component of the bias intimidation charges was whether Mr. Clementi felt bullied. Jurors said he left ample evidence that he did: he complained to his resident assistant, he went online to request a room change, he saved screen shots of Mr. Ravi’s more offensive online posts, and he viewed his roommate’s Twitter feed 38 times in the two days before he killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.Obviously, Clementi could not be cross-examined.
“We’ll never know exactly what he was feeling,” Ms. Audet said. “I can only assume.”
Mr. Ravi’s lawyer pointed to apologetic texts that Mr. Ravi sent Mr. Clementi, in which he said he had no problem with homosexuality and even had a close friend who was gay....That sounds like Ravi was found guilty because he couldn't disprove a motivation that was inferred based on Clementi's subjective perception. And yet the defense was deprived of much of the evidence of Clementi's subjective state of mind. Emily Bazelon writes:
Mr. Leverett, a student and Twitter user himself, was unmoved. “I can’t speak for everyone on the jury, but me, personally, I believe it was something where he realized what he did was wrong, and it was just too late to amend for what he did.”
Of the apology, Ms. Audet said: “My first impression was to believe what he said. Then, as we started reading stuff, we found things in there that I interpreted more as covering. The friend he claimed was a good friend in high school, that person was never presented as a defense witness. If that person had come forward and said, ‘Hey, we’ve been good friends, and he knows I’m gay and he doesn’t have a problem with it,’ that might have swayed me in the other direction.”
The suicide note he left behind, along with three Word documents with telltale names—“Gah.docx,” “sorry.docx,” and “Why is everything so painful.docx”—weren’t turned over to the defense or made public. (According to the judge, they weren’t directly relevant to the case against Ravi.)Not directly relevant? But indirection, coming from Clementi, is what convicted Ravi.
In an earlier article, before the conviction, Bazelon wrote:
If I was on that jury..., I’d want to know what he has to say for himself all these months later. How should we think about the spying from his point of view? Ravi has said he was concerned about M.B.’s scruffy appearance because he’d left his iPad in his room. Maybe, but it’s pretty unconvincing that’s the entire explanation. He was clearly both freaked out and titillated by the idea that gay sex was going on in his bedroom. And if that’s an understandable reaction from an 18-year-old, I’d like to hear Ravi parse out why in his own words.That sounds like a presumption of guilt, based on a failure of the defendant to testify. Do the liberal values about the rights of the accused evaporate when there's an opportunity to take a stand against homophobia?
Bazelon doesn't mention it, but the "scruffy" M.B. was a 32-year-old man. I could see being freaked out that a scruffy, much older man kept coming to your dorm room to have sex with your roommate, whether the sex was gay or straight. It wasn't just gay sex in the abstract, but a particular sexual situation, involving a specific person who really did not belong in Ravi's private space.
And what did that that specific person, M.B., have to do with the suicide, the suicide that inflamed the jury with pity? Shouldn't the jury have read the suicide note and “Gah.docx,” “sorry.docx,” and “Why is everything so painful.docx”? But the judge excluded that evidence.