Indian-origin former student pleads guilty to webcam spying
NEW YORK: A 24-year-old Indian-origin former Rutgers University student today pleaded guilty to attempted invasion of privacy by using a web cam to spy on his roommate who later committed suicide, bringing an end to a case that drew global attention and cast a spotlight on cyber bullying.
Dharun Ravi admitted to attempting to activate a web camera to capture Tyler Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man with the intent of letting other people view it, but not publishing it over the internet.
By pleading guilty to the third-degree felony, Ravi accepted a deal with state prosecutors to drop all other charges after an appellate court threw out his conviction, New York Times reported.
Last month the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey in Newark overturned a lower court’s conviction of Ravi on several counts of bias intimidation because of a change in state law. The court called for a new trial of Ravi on 10 other counts that included invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence.
In court today, prosecutors said they disagreed with the appellate court’s reversal of the bias charges. But prosecutors also said they would most likely lose if they tried to appeal the ruling.
Ravi was convicted in 2012 after the case prompted a furor over the bullying of gay teenagers like Clementi, an accomplished violinist who leapt from the George Washington Bridge in 2010.
Prosecutors did not charge Ravi in the death of Clementi, who left no explanation for his suicide. But shortly before his death, Clementi learned that Ravi had spied on him with a webcam.
Ravi will be sentenced to time served for the third-degree charge and will spend no additional time in jail.
Ravi, who now works in IT in New York City, said he “feels good” and “relieved” that the case is finished. He declined to comment further.
“He just wants to disappear,” Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, said outside the courtroom.
Clementi’s parents, Joe and Jane, said in a statement that witnesses of cyber bullying “need to become upstanders for those in our society like Tyler, who cannot stand up for themselves”.
“We call on all young people and parents to think about their behavior and not be bystanders to bullying, harassment or humiliation,” the statement said.
“Interrupt it, report it and reach out to victims to offer support. If this had happened in Tyler’s case our lives might be very different today.” –PTI