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Entries in Rutgers (13)

Tuesday
Jun192012

Former Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Released from Jail

ABC/LOU ROCCO(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was released from jail on Tuesday after serving 20 days of his 30-day sentence for spying on his roommate Tyler Clementi's gay tryst. Clementi committed suicide days later.

Ravi, 20, was let go early from the Middlesex County Jail because he had received a 10-day credit for good behavior.

After his conviction for bias intimidation, Judge Glenn Berman also sentenced Ravi to three years probation, ordered him to complete 300 hours of community service and attend counseling programs for cyber-bullying and alternative lifestyles.

Ravi must also pay a $10,000 assessment to the probation department in increments of $300 per month beginning on Aug. 1.  The money will go to groups that support victims of bias crimes.

Ravi, who is not a U.S. citizen, also faced the possibility of being deported, but U.S. immigration officials said this week that they will not pursue deportation for the Indian native.

Prosecutors have been asking an appeals court for a longer sentence while Ravi is appealing his conviction.

"I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi," the judge told the court when Ravi was sentenced.  "He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity."

Berman berated Ravi for not apologizing for his actions.

"I heard this jury say, 'guilty' 288 times -- 24 questions, 12 jurors.  That's the multiplication," Berman said.  "I haven't heard you apologize once."

Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.  Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.

On May 29, Ravi released an apology and statement to notify Berman that he would begin serving his 30-day sentence.

"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010 and September 21, 2010," he wrote.  "My behavior and action, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions."

Clementi's parents slammed Ravi's apology for spying on Clementi's gay date as "no apology at all, but a public relations piece."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

Tyler Clementi’s Family Slams Ravi, Judge in Rutgers Suicide Case

ABC/LOU ROCCO(MIDDLESEX COUNTY, N.J.) -- The parents of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student who killed himself in 2009, slammed Dharun Ravi’s apology for spying on Clementi’s gay date as “no apology at all, but a public relations piece,” in a statement released Thursday.

Ravi released an official apology and statement on Tuesday to notify Judge Glen Berman that he would begin serving his 30-day sentence in jail Thursday for charges of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. Ravi was found guilty of spying on his roommate Clementi’s sexual tryst with another man, known as “M.B.,” in the first weeks of their freshmen year. Ravi then sent Twitter messages and told friends about the encounter, and was found guilty of encouraging them to watch as Clementi and M.B. had a second date.

Clementi killed himself days later by jumping off of New York’s George Washington Bridge. His parents, who read tearful statements at Ravi’s sentencing earlier this month, said Thursday that Berman did not sentence Ravi harshly enough for the crimes Ravi committed against Clementi.

“We have respect for Judge Berman and we appreciate the manner in which he presided over the criminal trial of Mr. Ravi. Although we do not question the sincerity of his feelings, and we have never sought harsh punishment, we are troubled by the judge’s failure to impose even a short jail sentence on the several charges of criminal invasion of Tyler’s privacy and bias crimes.”

“As to the so-called ‘apology,’” they continued, “it was, of course, no apology at all, but a public relations piece produced by Mr. Ravi’s advisors only after Judge Berman scolded Mr. Ravi in open court for his failure to have expressed a word of remorse or apology. A sincere apology is personal.”

Ravi reported to Middlesex County jail in New Jersey Thursday. He will be required to do 300 hours of community service and remain on probation for three years after his jail sentence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

Ex-Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Apologizes, Heads for Jail Thursday

ABC/LOU ROCCO(MIDDLESEX, N.J.) -- Rutgers student Dharun Ravi released an apologetic letter Tuesday admitting that spying on his roommate’s gay tryst was “insensitive” and “stupid.”

Ravi also said he will surrender and begin his 30-day prison sentence on Thursday, despite an ongoing appeal for a longer prison sentence by the prosecution. Ravi says he hopes to "complete the sentence as soon as possible.  It's the only way I can go on with my life."

Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, released a statement from the 21-year-old, who last week was sentenced to the prison term, three years' probation, 300 hours of community service, and a fine of more than $10,000. He was convicted of spying and hate crimes against his former freshmen dorm roommate Tyler Clementi and a man known only as “M.B.” with whom Clementi had sexual encounters in September 2010.

The Middlesex, N.J., jury found Ravi guilty of using a webcam to spy on one sexual encounter and then using social media and conversation to spread the word about Clementi’s sexuality. Clementi killed himself by jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge just days after he discovered that Ravi had seen him on the date with M.B.

During sentencing, Clementi’s parents read tearful statements condemning Ravi for never having shown “a lack of remorse” for spying on Clementi. Judge Glenn Berman, who oversaw the trial, also scolded Ravi during sentencing.

“I heard this jury say, ‘guilty’ 288 times -- 24 questions, 12 jurors. That’s the multiplication,” Berman said. “I haven’t heard you apologize once.”

In his newly-released statement, however, Ravi claimed that he “accept(s) responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid, and childish choices that I made on Sept. 19, 2010, and Sept. 21, 2010.”

Ravi’s statement did not address the Clementi family. Instead, he states, “I apologize to everyone affected by those choices.”

He also maintained that his actions were not motivated by hate or bigotry.

Calls to the Clementis and M.B. were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May212012

Sentencing Day for Student Convicted of Spying on Tyler Clementi

ABC/LOU ROCCO(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi will be sentenced Monday in a New Jersey courtroom on his conviction for using a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi while was he having a gay sexual encounter in September 2010.

Ravi, 20, was convicted last March of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to observe Clementi's date with a man in their dorm room.

Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date and of intimidating Clementi for being gay.

Clementi, who was 18, killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge shortly after learning he had been spied upon. Still, the terse note he left beforehand did not indicate why he committed suicide and Ravi was not charged with his death.

The convictions carry a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison.  And because Ravi is a citizen of India and is in the U.S. on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing.  The U.S. deports most non-citizens convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.

However, most legal experts believe that Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman will not impose the maximum sentence and will allow Ravi to make bail in what is expected to be a lengthy appeals process.

Ravi's lawyers believe that their client should receive no jail time because he is a first-time offender who committed no violent act nor threatened to commit one.

In an interview with ABC's 20/20 following his conviction, Ravi said his "dumb" kid actions did not spur the death of his former roommate Clementi.  Ravi also claimed that he's being made an example of and that the possible punishment he faces doesn't fit the crime.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

Rutgers Trial Jury Reaches Verdict

ABC NewsUPDATE: A New Jersey jury on Friday found former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty on all counts for using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a gay sexual encounter in 2010.

Ravi, 20, was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.

Ravi was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted.

The convictions carry a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, and is in the US on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing. The US deports most criminals convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.

(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- A verdict has been reached in the case of accused Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, accused of spying on his college roommate Tyler Clementi with a webcam during a gay sexual encounter.

Ravi, 20, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges stemming from his alleged use of a webcam to peek at Clementi kissing another man on Sept. 19, 2010.  Prosecutors have alleged that Ravi then encouraged friends and other students to activate the webcam during another date, on Sept. 21, 2010.

Ravi, a citizen of India who was raised in New Jersey, is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest.  He faces the possibility of deportation if convicted of a serious crime.

Clementi's case gained national attention when he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010.  Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar152012

Rutgers Jury Ends First Day of Deliberations Without Verdict

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- The jury in the trial of former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi completed its first day of deliberations on Wednesday without reaching a verdict on charges that he spied on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi.

Ravi, 20, is charged with multiple counts of invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and bias intimidation -- a hate crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison -- for allegedly using his webcam to spy on Clementi with another man in their shared Rutgers dorm room just weeks into their freshman year.

It's a case that has generated 17 months of intense media attention after Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010.

If convicted of the most serious charges, Ravi, an Indian citizen who grew up in New Jersey, could also be deported.

The jury of seven women and five men asked the judge for guidance on New Jersey's bias intimidation law shortly after beginning deliberations.  The issue of bias intimidation is the most serious charges against Ravi, which is required for a conviction of a hate crime.

The jurors deciding Ravi's fate range from young people in their 20s to grandparents in their 70s.  One is the mother of a 20-year-old who enjoys playing Frisbee, sharing Ravi's age and interest.  One is a freelance writer who is single and without any children, and another young juror said he still plays X-Box games in his free time.

In helping to select the jury for the defense, Joshua Dubin, a nationally renowned lawyer and legal consultant, told ABC News that he hoped the younger jurors can "educate the rest of the jury" about the mechanics of Twitter, Facebook and iChat since several pieces of key evidence involve Ravi's online posts about viewing his roommate on his webcam.

The defense team also sought jurors who would not be afraid of public backlash if they came to a "not guilty" verdict in a case that has captured the nation's attention.  Dubin cited the controversial 2011 Casey Anthony acquittal as a recent example of the pressures a juror might face.

He predicts a verdict from the jury by Friday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

Rutgers Summations: Prosecution Calls 'Immature Kid' Defense False

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- The trial of Rutgers student Dharun Ravi drew to a close Tuesday as prosecutors and defense lawyers sparred over whether Ravi's spying on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi was a criminal act by an anti-gay bigot or the "stupid" actions of an immature college freshman.

The closing summations in the webcam spying case against Ravi came after three weeks of testimony from 22 witnesses.

Ravi, 20, is on trial for allegedly invading Clementi's privacy after he activated a webcam and saw Clementi having an encounter with another man in their shared Rutgers dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.  Ravi is accused of telling others about the webcam spying, and encouraging them to also watch during a subsequent Clementi date on Sept. 21.

In addition, Ravi is charged with bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest.

Clementi killed himself just days after the spying incident by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.  His death and the charges against Ravi sparked public outrage over cyber-bullying and gay-bullying among students.

Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.

During the state's closing argument on Tuesday, prosecutor Julie McClure repeatedly pointed out Ravi's messages to friends and Twitter followers that he had seen his roommate kissing another man on his webcam and encouraging them to see for themselves during a second date.

McClure referenced text messages and conversations Ravi had in which he talked about the spying and said he was "set up" to spy via webcam again.

His plans to spy for a second time were ultimately thwarted by Clementi, who unplugged Ravi's computer and disabled his webcam, McClure argued.  She challenged Ravi's claim that he turned off the webcam himself.

She also dismissed Ravi's claim that he peeked at his roommate's date because he feared the "creepy" guest would steal his iPad.  If he was that worried, he would have taken the iPad with him when he left, the prosecutor said.

In addition, she noted that Ravi's first reaction after tracking the name of his new roommate was to write to a friend, "F... my life. He's gay," something he repeated to other friends and teammates on Rutgers ultimate Frisbee team.

McClure asked the jury to imagine what it was like for Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman, to realize his roommate had spied on him and not knowing how many people may have watched.

"Three weeks into the semester and (Clementi) finds out that his sexual orientation has been broadcast to the defendant's twitter followers," McClure said.  "His private sexual activities have been exposed.  What do you think he's thinking?  'If Molly saw it, did Cassie see it?  Did people in the hall see it?  Did people in Davidson C see it?'  You don't think that he was intimidated by learning that information?  Fearful, embarrassed?  He'd been exposed."

Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, argued during his four-hour summation that Ravi made one innocent mistake on Sept. 19, the night of Clementi's first date: he activated his webcam for two to five seconds to keep an eye on his belongings, and was surprised to see Clementi kissing another man.

"Why we're here is because on Sept. 19, and Sept. 21, 2010, an 18-year-old boy, a kid, a college freshman, had an experience, had an encounter that he wasn't ready for," Altman told the jury, claiming that Ravi reacted "immaturely" to what he saw on the screen.

The text messages and Twitter messages about a second viewing were nothing more than immature jokes, and Ravi never intended to spy for a second time, Altman argued.

The jury will reassemble at 9 a.m. Wednesday to hear the judge's instructions, which are expected to take about 90 minutes, before beginning deliberations over a verdict.

Ravi could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar132012

Rutgers Summation: Spying on Tyler Clementi an 'Innocent' Mistake

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Spying on Tyler Clementi's gay sexual encounter was an innocent mistake by Rutgers freshman Dharun Ravi, sparked by curiosity, not maliciousness, Ravi's attorney argued Tuesday in the closing summations of the Rutgers trial.

Ravi, 20, is on trial for allegedly invading Clementi's privacy after he activated a webcam and saw Clementi having a gay sexual encounter in their shared Rutgers dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.  Ravi is accused of telling others about the webcam spying, and encouraging them to also watch during a subsequent Clementi date on Sept. 21.

In addition, Ravi is charged with bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest.

Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman, killed himself just days after the spying incident by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.  His death and the charges against Ravi sparked public outrage over cyber-bullying and gay-bullying among students.

Ravi, however, is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.

The defense's summation was interrupted on Tuesday when Ravi's attorney Steven Altman got sick while addressing the jury.  He asked the judge for a few minutes, but he never returned and after a while the courtroom was emptied.

Altman said his client made an immature mistake when he activated the webcam on Sept. 19 while Clementi had an older male guest in their dorm room.  When Ravi realized he was seeing a date, he turned the camera off.

Altman claims Ravi was peeking to check on his belongings because he felt that Clementi's date, identified only by his initials M.B., was older and scruffy looking.

"If his goal was to see anything sexual, you know you would have been hearing testimony in the last three weeks from somebody (about it)," Altman told the jury.  "But the webcam was on a very short time, two to five seconds, and that tells you why they went on on Sept. 19.  It was curiosity, to see what's going on, to find out what was that guy doing there."

In a New Jersey courtroom packed with two dozen members of Clementi's family and friends, and a handful of Ravi's family members, Altman argued that there was no evidence that Ravi was homophobic or anti-gay.  During the testimony of 22 witnesses throughout the trial, no one had said that Ravi openly disparaged his roommate or felt hatred toward him, Altman said.

When he activated the webcam in his room and saw Clementi kissing a man, he reacted with immature surprise, Altman argued.

"Why we're here is because on Sept. 19, and Sept. 21, 2010, an 18-year-old boy, a kid, a college freshman, had an experience, had an encounter that he wasn't ready for, he didn't expect, he was surprised by, and he didn't know how to deal with it because he was a kid.  What you have to decide is whether he did it because he was hateful, biased, or anti-gay, or hated his roommate," Altman said.

Following Altman's summation, the jury will hear the state's closing argument.  The state has contended during the trial that Ravi complained to friends in emails that he was upset to find out that his college roommate was gay, and that he recruited the help of a second student to aim his webcam at Clementi's bed for the Sept. 21 date, and invited friends to watch the encounter.

The state has also argued that Ravi tried to cover up his incriminating digital messages and tampered with a witness.

On Wednesday, Judge Glenn Berman is scheduled to give the jury instructions and let them begin deliberations.  That schedule is now uncertain because of Altman's illness.

Ravi could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Rutgers Trial: Tyler Clementi Saw Roommate's Apology Just Before Suicide

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was told by police that his text message apology for spying on roommate Tyler Clementi was likely the last message Clementi received before killing himself.

In a taped interview with investigators the day after Clementi's suicide, Ravi is seen struggling to understand as he is told that his apology to Clementi was received just minutes before Clementi posted a Facebook message saying, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."

"Did he get that text before?" Ravi asked investigators.

"That's the way it looks," an officer responded.

"So he got mine, and then sent his?" Ravi asked, to which the investigators responded yes.

The tape was shown in a New Jersey courtroom Wednesday as part of the prosecution's case against Ravi, who is accused of spying on Clementi during a gay sexual encounter just days before Clementi's death.

Ravi is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.

In the video, which gave the jury its first opportunity to hear Ravi's version of events from the week of Sept. 19, 2010, Ravi is seen contradicting his own statements and appears to be lying to investigators.

After spying on Sept.19, Ravi sent out Twitter and text messages to friends encouraging them to spy on Clementi's next date through Ravi's webcam on Sept. 21, according to documents presented in court and according to testimony by other students. During the questioning, however, Ravi denied any intention of spying on Clementi on Sept. 21.

"Tuesday (Clementi) asked for the room again. This time I knew it was going to happen, so then I told everyone, I told my friends not to chat me. I turned my camera off," Ravi said on the videotape.

As the investigators challenged Ravi's version of events, he claimed that his text messages were "just jokes" and that his actions on the night of Sept. 21 -- allegedly turning the camera off and not spying -- are what matters.

"I said that sarcastically, first of all, and second of all I turned off my computer," Ravi said. "The fact is if you ask people, one of the kids in the hall told me, oh the computer wasn't working."

Investigators also asked Ravi whether he "deliberately" spied on his roommate. When Ravi responds that he did not, investigators reference a text message Ravi sent his friend, Molly Wei, asking her whether she confessed to police that they spied "on purpose."

Ravi responded that he did send the text message.

After investigators explained that "deliberately" and "on purpose" meant the same thing, Ravi admitted that he spied on Clementi deliberately.

The questioning ended abruptly when investigators were told that Ravi's father had arrived at the police station requesting that his son be represented by a lawyer in any further questioning. Police asked Ravi if he agreed with his father, and Ravi said yes.

At the end of the video, police investigators told Ravi they might charge him with invading Clementi's privacy, even if he had nothing to do with Clementi's suicide.

The tape was entered into evidence as the prosecution winds down its case against Ravi. The prosecution is expected to rest Thursday. The defense will then have an opportunity to call its witnesses for the remainder of the trial.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Rutgers Prosecution Witness: Could He Have Been a Defendant?

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Rutgers University student Lokesh Ojha has emerged as a key prosecution witnesses in the trial of Dharun Ravi, who's accused of invading the privacy and cyberbullying his college roommate, Tyler Clementi.

But could Ojha have just as easily been a defendant?

Ojha's name came up again Tuesday on the eighth day of the trial in the testimony of two computer experts, who testified that Ravi engaged in video chats on the evening of Sept. 21, 2010.  The next day, Clementi leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

The prosecution is using the computer experts to corroborate Ojha's earlier testimony that he helped Ravi set up a second viewing of Clementi who was planning a second encounter with an older man that night.

Testimony has shown that Ravi and Molly Wei, who is now cooperating with the state, briefly watched Clementi and the 30-year-old man, known only as M.B., kissing in a dorm room two days earlier.

Ravi's alleged attempt for a second viewing is critical in the state's contention that Ravi was motivated by gay bias.

Wei was originally charged with Ravi, but entered into a plea deal that would allow her to avoid jail and a criminal record.  Yet questions remain as to why Ojha also was not charged as a co-conspirator.

"They certainly could have charged him with attempted invasion of privacy," says John Fahy, a former New Jersey prosecutor.  "He discussed the intended webcam incident, and he helped Ravi arrange the camera to carry it out."

With two students in their respective rooms, Ojha testified last Wednesday, he hooked into Ravi's webcam, which showed Clementi's half of their dorm room.

"I remember he [Ravi] was walking around.  He moved his computer an inch... I saw Tyler's bed," Ojha testified.  "I said it was good and he said he couldn't really hear me and I gave him a thumbs up."

In addition, Ojha admitted under cross-examination that he lied to investigators when first contacted by police.

"I wouldn't say it was a lie," Ojha said, then changed his mind, conceding, "Well, yeah."

Pressed by defense lawyer Steven Altman, he was asked, "Were you lying?" to which Ojha answered, "Yes."

When asked why, Ojha, looking shaken and pausing to pour himself water from a pitcher, said he was "scared."  He later added, "I was a freshman and I thought my college career was over because I helped him, I helped him set it up."

The Middlesex County Prosecutors Office, declined comment about why Ojha was not charged, as they have consistently done throughout the case.  Ravi was ultimately charged with both crimes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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