The former Rutgers University student accused in the secret recording and live-streaming of roommate Tyler Clementi's sexual encounter with another man has rejected a plea deal, reports the Star-Ledger. Dharun Ravi has gambled on a trial and rejected a deal that would have kept him out of prison and sought to prevent his deportation,
Ravi is accused of using a hidden webcam to secretly record and transmit 18-year-old Clementi and another man on September 19, 2010. Clementi later jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after learning that he had been spied upon. Ravi is not charged in Clementi's death.
The 19-year-old former Rutgers University student refused today to plead guilty to any of 15 charges accusing him of bias intimidation and using a webcam to remotely spy on his former roommate, Tyler Clementi, in their dorm room last year. By opting for a trial, Ravi risks prison time and deportation if he’s convicted. The plea deal had called for probation and included the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office’s offer to help Ravi if immigration authorities moved to deport him.
"Why did he reject the plea?" Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, was asked after the hearing. "He’s innocent. He’s not guilty. That’s why he rejected the plea." Ravi could also face deportation if he is convicted because he was born in India. Altman said Ravi has a green card and "is here legally," but "deportation could be an issue."
In April 2011, Ravi was indicted by a New Jersey grand jury on 15 counts—including hate crime charges. The indictments charge Ravi with attempting to "cover up the crime by deleting text messages from his phone and changing an incriminating post about the webcam on his Twitter account. He also allegedly tried to persuade friends not to testify against him.
One month later, former Rutgers student Molly Wei agreed to testify against Ravi, who allegedly used Wei's computer in her dorm room to activate his webcam via Skype.
New Jersey toughened its anti-bullying laws in the months after Clementi's suicide. The new legislation is described as the "strictest anti-bullying statute in the nation."
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