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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Indians Abroad

Indian-American student to face trial for roommate's suicide
PTI
New York, October 21, 2011
First Published: 10:39 IST(21/10/2011)
Last Updated: 10:41 IST(21/10/2011)

An Indian-American Rutgers University student, accused of spying on his roommate's sexual encounter with another man, will stand trial in February next year after he refused a plea deal on Friday that would have put him behind bars for not more than five years.

A trial date for Dharun Ravi, 19 has been set for February 21. If convicted at trial, Ravi faces 10 years or more in prison.

Ravi was charged with 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

Ravi's roommate Tyler Clementi committed suicide last year by jumping off the George Washington bridge a couple of days after Ravi secretly videotaped and posted online Clementi's sexual encounter with another man.

The suicide sparked off a nationwide debate on bullying of young gays and lesbians.

During a pretrial hearing, Ravi said "yes" when New Jersey Superior Court judge Glenn Berman asked him whether he understood the risks he faces by appearing in court.

He turned down the plea deal offered by prosecutors that would have given him a maximum of three to five years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to some of the bias intimidation and invasion of privacy charges.

The judge said he would have had the option of giving Ravi no jail time, if the defendant had accepted the deal.

Berman ruled that Ravi's lawyer should not have access to his personal writings, including documents found on his computer.

The judge also reiterated his earlier ruling that Ravi, his lawyer and his lawyer's investigator should be given the name and birth date of the man who had the encounter with Clementi provided they do not give that information to anyone else.

Ravi's lawyer, Steven Altman, contended that disclosing the name of the man, considered both a victim and witness in the case, is necessary for his client, even though the man has said he does not want to speak with defence lawyers.


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