(Photo: REUTERS/Mark Dye)
After a court on Friday found that a former Rutgers University student was guilty of invading privacy of his roommate by watching his sexual encounter with another man through a hidden webcam, the Family Research Council said gay activists must not politicize the verdict.
Tony Perkins, president of the Christian group FRC, called the verdict "another opportunity for all Americans to speak out against the behavior of anyone who would abuse another person – especially a child – because of his/her sexuality or any other reason." However, Perkins warned in a statement that "some pro-homosexual activists would exploit the personal tragedies of these families to promote a political agenda."
The New Jersey jury found 20-year-old Dharun Ravi, who had been accused of spying on and intimidating his 18-year-old gay roommate Tyler Clementi by use of a hidden webcam, guilty of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence.
When Clementi came to know that Ravi had watched him engaging in an intimate act with another man, he jumped off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010. Clementi reportedly told his parents he was gay just a few days before starting Rutgers.
Perkins agreed that this was a complete violation of Jesus' commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. "Family Research Council believes that every individual deserves equal protection, and every offender should receive equal punishment," he said. But the verdict was being seen as an opportunity to promote the gay agenda, he added.
"Some have even laid blame not on the actual bullies but on Christian churches and conservative politicians. It's wrong to politicize these tragedies. Instead, we should focus on preventing the bullying of young people – for their sexual orientation, appearance, religion, or any other reason."
Sentencing has been scheduled for May 21, and the convict faces up to 10 years in jail and deportation to India, where he is originally from.
Rutgers University said in a statement that the incident "should make us all pause to recognize the importance of civility and mutual respect in the way we live, work and communicate with others."
"These acts were purposeful, they were intentional, and they were planned," CNN quoted prosecutor Julia L. McClure as telling the jury on the first day of the trial. Ravi was bothered by Clementi's sexual orientation, she later elaborated.
Ravi's attorneys disagreed. They said Ravi acted thoughtlessly as an immature college student. "He hasn't lived long enough to have any experience with homosexuality or gays," attorney Steven Altman was quoted as saying in closing arguments. "He doesn't know anything about it. He just graduated high school."
The case sparked national debate about bullying and prompted a series of anti-bullying campaigns, including a videotaped message condemning bullying released by President Barack Obama less than a month after Clementi's death.
Ravi sent out tweets about Clementi's homosexual act to his followers. After reading the tweets, Clementi requested a room change from a Davidson Hall resident assistant. However, Clementi later updated his Facebook status to, "jumping off the gw bridge sorry," just four minutes before Ravi sent him a long text apologizing. It is unclear if Clementi ever read the apology.