NJ spycam case stirs debate over hate crime laws

DAVID CRARY AP National Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- There was a verdict in the wrenching Rutgers webcam spying case, but no resolution to a broader question hovering over it: To what extent are hate crime laws a help or a hindrance in the pursuit of justice?

Jurors convicted former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi of anti-gay intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate's love life. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, threw himself to his death off a bridge after realizing he'd been watched.

Some gay-rights leaders commended the outcome as vindication of hate crimes legislation.

In other quarters, there was dismay at the use of New Jersey's hate crimes law in the case, and the verdict that could saddle Ravi with a lengthy prison sentence despite a dearth of evidence that he hated gays.