A webcam
A not guilty plea was entered in the Rutgers webcam spying case. Image: MShades/Flickr/CC BY

Dharun Ravi, a 19-year-old former student at Rutgers University, today entered a not guilty plea to 15 charges in a New Brunswick, N.J., courtroom. Ravi is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old violinist, during a same-sex encounter.  The incident allegedly led to Clementi’s suicide and sparked the nationwide awareness of gay bullying.

Possible 10-year sentence

Dharun Ravi, who faces 15 different charges related to Tyler Clementi’s suicide, did not speak during his brief courtroom appearance. His lawyer Steve Altman entered the plea for the charges on Ravi’s behalf.  The most serious charge is bias intimidation. That charge alleges that Ravi’s actions were based on Clementi’s sexual orientation. Ravi could possibly receive 10 years in prison if convicted of that charge alone. Other charges include invasion of privacy and evidence tampering.

Clementi allegedly ‘outed’

Authorities say that shortly after Ravi and Clementi became roommates, Ravi “outed” Clementi by posting the message “Found out my roommate is gay” on his Twitter account.  Ravi then allegedly linked the comment to a thread Clementi is believed to have posted in a gay chat room.

Spying with a webcam

On Sept. 19, 2010, Ravi tweeted, “Roommate asked for the room ill midnight.  I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam.  I saw him making out with a dude.  Yay.”

Clementi committed suicide on Sept. 22 by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge.

An attempted cover up

Prosecutors in the case say that Ravi then deleted Twitter and text messages in an attempt to cover up his alleged crimes.

Status conference to be held

A status conference on the case has been scheduled by Judge Glenn Berman for July 25.  Ravi’s lawyers and the Middlesex County Prosecutors are expected to share evidence before that time.

Witness enrolled in intervention program

One of the key witnesses is Molly Wei, who is also charged with invasion of privacy.  Earlier this month she was entered into a pretrial intervention program.  If she meets all conditions required by the court, all of her charges will be dropped in three years.

Father calls for justice

Clementi’s father issued a statement shortly after the hearing, saying, “Our family is grateful for the active work of the prosecutor’s office in this case. We are eager to see the criminal justice process move forward.”

Sources

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43135427/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

Newser: http://www.newser.com/article/d9nd5i1g0/not-guilty-plea-entered-for-defendant-in-rutgers-webcam-case-linked-to-suicide.html

WABC: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_jersey&id=8146113

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