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Entries in Rutgers University (32)

Monday
May212012

Rutgers Trial: Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a New Jersey judge Monday for spying on his roommate's gay tryst. Ravi's freshman roommate Tyler Clementi committed suicide days later.

"I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi," Judge Glenn Berman told the court. "He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity."

Ravi, 20, must report to Middlesex Adult Correctional Center on May 31 at 9 a.m. for his 30 day jail term. He was also sentenced to three years probation, ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and attend counseling programs for cyber-bullying and alternative lifestyles.

He must also pay a $10,000 assessment to the probation department in increments of $300 per month beginning Aug. 1. The money will go to victims of bias crimes. The judge recommended that Ravi, who was born in India and is here on a green card, not be deported.

"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."

Berman also berated Ravi by saying that most defendants stand when a judge speaks to them, but told him, "Keep your seat." The judge called Ravi's pre-sentencing letter "unimpressive."

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Ravi, who was expected to make a statement to the packed New Brunswick, N.J. courtroom, declined to speak before the sentence was read.

The prosecution, which sought a significant prison term, indicated it will appeal the judge's sentence.

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.

Clementi's family asked the judge Monday to sentence Ravi to prison time.

Clementi's father, Joseph Clementi, told the judge, "One of Tyler's last actions was to check Ravi's Twitter page" and noted that his son checked his roommate's Twitter page 37 times before leaving the Rutgers campus and driving to the George Washington Bridge where he jumped to his death.

Ravi was convicted of a hate crime for using a webcam to spy on Clementi during a sexual liaison with a man identified only as "MB" and announcing what he saw on Twitter. Ravi put out another tweet when he heard Clementi was having a second date with MB.

Joseph Clementi said that Ravi decided his son "wasn't deserving the respect of basic human decency" and "was below him" because Tyler Clementi was gay.

"He did it in a cold calculating manner and then he tried to cover it up," the father, who had to pause to compose himself, said. Clementi's mother Jane Clementi cried in the front row has her husband spoke.

The father accused Ravi of having any "lack of remorse."

Tyler Clementi's mother Jane Clementi recalled the day she helped her "excited" son move into his Rutgers dorm room and the coldness Ravi showed by not getting up from his computer to say hello.

"He never even paused to acknowledge that Tyler was in the room," she said. "He never stopped what he was doing, no greeting, no smile, no recognition, no nothing."

She called Ravi's actions toward her son "arrogant and mean-spirited."

Clementi's brother, James, told the court, "I watched as Dharun slept through court as if it was not worth" paying attention. "I watched Dharun and his lawyers laugh as if it were a private joke."

Earlier a lawyer for MB read a statement asking for prison time for Ravi because, he said, Ravi has not accepted responsibility for his actions.

"He must serve some type of confinement… To this day he appears to blame me for his conduct," citing Ravi's claim that he spied on his roommate because he feared MB would steal his iPad.

MB said he does not believe, however, that Ravi should be deported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

Dharun Ravi Found Guilty in Rutgers Trial

Tyler Clementi's parents during the reading of the verdict. ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- 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 observe 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 of intimidating Clementi for being gay.

Ravi was found not guilty of some sub-parts 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 ten years in prison. 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.

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

Throughout the trial, Middlesex County Prosecutor Julie McClure maintained that Ravi spied on Clementi's date because Clementi was gay, and told his friends and Twitter followers to also spy on Clementi.  McClure described Ravi's actions as an anti-gay hate crime.  She argued that Clementi was clearly made uncomfortable by Ravi's actions, evidenced in Clementi's request for a room change that he submitted to Rutgers on Sept. 21.

Ravi's defense attorney, Steven Altman, dismissed suggestions that his client was anti-gay or targeting Clementi because of his sexuality. He claimed that Ravi was curious and immature, but not malicious, when he decided to activate the webcam on Sept. 19.

"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.

Altman argued that Ravi only activated the webcam to keep an eye on his belongings while an older "creepy" stranger was in the room, and that Ravi's messages on Twitter and to his friends about the spying were just immature joking.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

Rutgers Trial: Jury Begins Deliberations

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- The criminal charges against Dharun Ravi were handed over to a jury Wednesday following closing arguments in a case that has generated 17 months of intense media attention after Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010.

Ravi 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.

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 Defense Ends With Dharun Ravi's Own Words, Demeanor

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- The final word in defense of Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, accused of spying on his roommate Tyler Clementi during a gay sexual encounter, came from Ravi himself, as his police interview tape was replayed in the closing salvo of the defense's summation Tuesday.

Though Ravi never took the stand during his trial, defense attorney Steven Altman directed the jury's attention to the video to watch Ravi's demeanor and listen to his words as he admits he peeked at the date, but then immediately stopped watching and did not do it again.

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.

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Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death. Clementi left behind a note, but its contents have never been made public.

During a four-hour closing argument in court Tuesday, Altman portrayed Ravi as an immature college freshman, not a bigoted bully.

"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.

He told the jury they would have to decide whether Ravi's reaction was because "he was hateful and he was biased, and ugly and anti-gay and he hated his roommate," or whether he was "stupid, he's ignorant, maybe immature and a typical 18-year-old kid. Or is his reaction criminal."

On Wednesday, Judge Glenn Berman is scheduled to give the jury instructions and let them begin deliberations.

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

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

Monday
Mar122012

Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Doesn't Testify as Defense Rests

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Accused Rutgers student Dharun Ravi did not take the stand to defend himself against charges that he activated a webcam to peek at roommate Tyler Clementi and another man kissing and then encouraged others to do the same.

The defense rested its case Monday in the trial of Ravi, who told Judge Glenn Berman that he did not want to testify.

Ravi, now 20, is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest. The charges stem from his alleged spying on Clementi's date on Sept. 19, 2010 and then encouraging others to do the same during Clementi's second date on Sept. 21.

Clementi, who was an 18-year-old freshman, killed himself on Sept. 22 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. Clementi left behind a note, but its contents have never been made public.

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

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Rutgers Trial: Prosecution Rests Its Case Against Dharun Ravi

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- The prosecution has rested its case Thursday in the webcam spying trial of Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi.

The state's case lasted nine days, questioning a score of witnesses and entering a thick stack of computer emails, tweets and instant messages into evidence.

The case stems from circumstances surrounding the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi. Ravi, who was Clementi's roommate, is not charged in any way with Clementi's death. Still, he is charged with invasion of privacy, witness tampering, hindering prosecution and, most importantly, bias intimidation, a hate crime for which Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison.

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

Tuesday
Mar062012

Judge Allows Testimony About Tyler Clementi's Suicide

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- The barely mentioned death of Tyler Clementi made its way into the trial of Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi on Monday, in the form of an exchange of text messages between the defendant and a friend the day after Clementi leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

Ravi, accused of spying on Clementi with a webcam in September 2010, has been charged with multiple counts of invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and bias intimidation -- a hate crime.

Before the trial, the judge informed the jury of Clementi's suicide, but reminded them Ravi is not charged with causing his roommate's death.  And for that reason, the judge told lawyers testimony and evidence about the suicide would be severely limited.

Prosecutors are precluded from linking the spying allegations to the suicide.  Defense lawyers cannot make the case that Clementi killed himself for reasons that have nothing to do with the webcam incident.  But while cross-examining Michelle Huang, Ravi's friend since high school, defense attorney Steven Altman went right there.

He asked Huang to describe the text messages she exchanged with Ravi when he learned Clementi had committed suicide on Sept. 22, 2010 -- presumably to show Ravi didn't believe he had anything to do with his roommate's death.

The exchange between the two friends, on Sept. 23, went like this:

Ravi: "My roommate committed suicide."

Huang: "You're kidding?"

Ravi: "... The cops came to my room last night looking for him and a bunch of counselors told me this morning. He jumped off a bridge."

Huang: "Wait are you serious??? WTF?? That's mad scrary .. Wasn't he like fine though? That's really crazy."

Huang then asked why Clementi killed himself, and Ravi replied: "Idk. I guess he was quiet because he was depressed. ... No idea. He was quiet all the time and had no friends and so guess it makes sense."

After Huang's testimony, Middlesex County First Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure told the judge that now that Altman was delving into the suicide, she might recall some earlier witnesses to ask them about conversations with Ravi about the suicide.  Judge Glenn Berman said he had allowed the questioning of Huang to continue because jurors might not have understood the texts without that context.

But he was apprehensive about allowing more exploration of the suicide because Ravi isn't charged with it.

"My preference is we don't talk about it," Berman said.

Before Monday, Clementi's suicide had come up only in passing.  But there is one constant reminder in the courtroom of his death: Clementi's parents and other relatives -- including, at times, both of his older brothers -- sat through each of the first six days of the trial. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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