Had Dharun Ravi accepted the prosecutor’s plea deal back in December, the former Rutgers student would be in a much better place today.
Ravi had 15 charges against him. He was accused of bias intimidation (hate crime) and using a webcam to remotely spy on his former roommate (invasion of privacy). In December, Superior Court Judge Glenn Burman explained that Ravi faced prison time if a jury convicted him on a single bias intimidation charge. Ravi motioned that he understood Judge Burman.
Because Ravi and his defense attorneys said no to a plea deal that would have kept the former Rutgers student out of prison and in the country, Dharun Ravi faces a prison term and a return to his birthplace India after his prison stint.
Dharun Ravi wanted to take his case to court. Ravi and his attorneys wanted to argue that Ravi is not responsible for Tyler Clementi’s death. Ravi’s attorneys wanted to argue that the webcam sex tape wasn’t aired to the general public, but only to Ravi’s Twitter followers.
Steve Altman, Ravi’s attorney, told media in December that Ravi rejected the plea because Ravi was innocent.
Prosecution argued that Tyler Clementi’s suicide was a result of a intimidating tactics used by Ravi on the internet, Youtube and Twitter. Defense argued that Dharun Ravi isn’t a hateful person, nor is he a homophobe. Instead, defense argued that Ravi was an immature student who engaged in a thoughtless prank. Initially, it was reported that Ravi set up videocameras to protect his belongings.
It is puzzling that Ravi rejected the plea deal considering the publicity that followed Tyler Clementi’s suicide. Higher education officials and politicians took prompt action to implement anti-bullying laws in the country. Those anti-bullying laws include cyber bullying. New Jersey was the first to pass the bill. In fact, a New Jersey politician drafted the legislation.
Why Ravi ignored the writing on the wall is mysterious. Ravi never testified in the case against him, but the man who was with Clementi during Ravi’s illegal webcam recording, known publicly as MB, did testify. On the stand, "MB" testified anonymously and said he noticed the webcam in the room and thought it was “strange.” MB also testified that he did not wish imprisonment for Ravi.
Ravi was acquitted of bias intimidation charges against MB. Molly Wei, another student named in conjunction with Clementi's suicide, also testified in the case against Ravi.
MB said that after his second illicitly videotaped meeting with Tyler, there were about 5 students on campus who were looking at him strangely. MB said he didn’t know Tyler Clementi’s last name until later on that day, after Clementi committed suicide. The two met on a dating site.
The jury began their deliberations on March 14 in the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. There’s a split verdict, but the jury reached a guilty verdict in matters of invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence, and charged Ravi with a hate crime. He faces ten years in prison.
Ravi’s hate crime conviction should result in jail time. He’ll be sentenced May 21. After any prison time is served, Ravi faces deportation.
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