Overturned convictions in Tyler Clementi spying case a mistake, prosecutor says
NEW BRUNSWICK — The prosecutor in the case against the roommate of a gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide in 2010 says judges erred in overturning the convictions and ordering a new trial for Dharun Ravi.
The three-judge appellate panel last week threw out the bias intimidation convictions against Ravi following a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling that declared parts of the state's bias intimidation law unconstitutional.
The panel also overturned the 2012 convictions on the other crimes Ravi was charged with, including invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension and witness tampering, because the judges believed the jury was biased by the inadmissible evidence.
The state's courts have held that prosecutors cannot rely on a victim's "state of mind" in order to prove a bias intimidation case.
Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after learning that Ravi and another student had used a webcam on two occasions to watch Clementi and another man having a romantic encounter in their dorm room.
Prosecutors never charged Ravi with causing Clementi’s death, but the case became a highly cited example of the need for anti-bullying laws and programs in schools.
Ravi was sentenced to probation plus 30 days in county jail — a sentence many criticized as a slap on the wrist because he had faced up to 10 years in prison.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office on Friday announced that it had filed a motion asking the appellate division to reconsider its decision and correction factual errors it made in reaching it.
After the decision, Clementi's parents called on others to join their efforts to create “a kinder more empathic society.”
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.