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Dharun Ravi Pleads Not Guilty in Tyler Clementi Case

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 24, 2011 6:55 AM

Tyler Clementi, then a freshman at Rutgers University in New Jersey, committed suicide last September. Investigators believe that the primary instigator for these crimes was Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi. Hate crimes, invasion of privacy, and other charges have all been levied against Ravi.

Ravi reportedly secretly used a webcam operated in another Rutgers University student's room to tape Clementi, who is gay, kissing another man and streaming the video online.

Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge when he realized he had been "outed" by Ravi. Ravi has now pled not guilty to the charges, reports the New York Daily News.

The most serious charges levied against Ravi are the charges that he committed a hate crime against Clementi because his roommate was gay. Allegedly, in early August, Ravi found out that his future roommate was gay. Ravi then posted on his Twitter account that his roommate is gay, and linked it to an online post by someone he believed to be Clementi on some community chat room.

This evidence will likely come into play when the case moves forward. Under New Jersey law, bias intimidation is when someone commits a crime or threatens to commit a crime with the purpose of intimidating someone due to their race, color, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Prosecutors will have to show that Ravi intended to commit these crimes, such as of invasion of privacy, because he wanted to intimidate, tease, or target Clementi due to his homosexuality.

Moreover, according to the same statute, the crime of bias intimidation will not "merge" with the conviction for the underlying crime. For example, if the court finds that Ravi committed the invasion of privacy because Clementi was gay, Ravi will be convicted of both crimes, not just the underlying invasion of privacy offense.

For Dharun Ravi, a hate crime conviction may mean he will be serving up to 10 years in prison, reports the AP.

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