Dharun Ravi, the former roommate of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, pleaded not guilty this morning to bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, evidence tampering, and other charges. You'll recall that Clemente committed suicide after he realized that his homosexual encounter had been watched via webcam, and that Ravi had allegedly tried to share his next liaison with other Rutgers students online. If convicted of the most serious charge, bias intimidation, Ravi faces up to ten years in prison. Clementi's family attended the hearing, which lasted just ten minutes, and issued a statement afterward.
"Today Mr. Ravi has been arraigned on multiple counts alleging criminal acts against our son Tyler," Joseph Clementi told reporters. "We are eager to see the criminal justice process to move forward." Ravi, who no longer attends Rutgers, is currently free on $25,000 bail. His attorney told the Asbury Park Press he's going to need a lot of time to prepare for the case, in part because prosecutors have assembled 1,600 pages of documents as evidence.
Ravi’s co-defendant, Molly Wei, 19, was in her dorm room with Ravi when he observed some part of the first encounter through his dorm room computer webcam. She's also charged with invasion of privacy, but has reached a deal with prosecutors wherein all charges against her will be dismissed, provided she testifies against Ravi, performs 300 hours of community service and undergoes "counseling for cyberbullying and dealing with people with alternative lifestyles."
Ravi and Wei withdrew from Rutgers last year in the wake of the suicide, which took place in the first few weeks of school and sparked a national conversation about bullying and the challenges facing teen homosexuals. Though it was initially implied that the webcam footage was streamed live over the internet for the world to see, Ravi's lawyers maintain that he and Wei were the only ones who saw it, and that their client did not observe any sexual activity. After spying on Clementi's first encounter, Ravi later tweeted his intention to share his next one over iChat. This never happened because Clementi discovered the camera and covered it up. But later that night, he jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge.