New York: India-born student Dharun Ravi, who had served a 20-day prison term for spying on his gay roommate who later committed suicide, won a major legal reprieve after a New Jersey appeals court threw out his conviction and ordered a new trial.
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In a 61-page ruling issued yesterday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey in Newark said the jury had found Ravi guilty of bias intimidation under a law that was later deemed “constitutionally defunct.”
Ravi, a former Rutgers University student, was convicted in March 2012 on 15 counts of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence for spying on the sexual encounter of his roommate Tyler Clementi, 18 with another man through a webcam in September 2010.”
Days later, Clementi had committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington bridge near here.
Ravi was not charged with causing or contributing to Clementi’s death.
Ravi, now 24, was sentenced to a month in Middlesex County jail and was released in June 2016 after completing 20 days in prison and getting five days credit for good behaviour.
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Ravi, who had faced up to 10 years in prison, had also been sentenced to three years’ of supervised release, ordered to do 300 hours of community service and pay a fine of about 11,000 dollars.
Ravi’s attorney Steve Altman told the Wall Street Journal he was pleased with court’s decision.
“We genuinely felt that the basis of the conviction and the basis of the presentation of the state’s case was wrong,” Altman said.
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“Dharun Ravi, whatever he did or didn’t do, had no homophobic motive involved.”
The case had garnered international attention and Clementi’s suicide had sparked an outrage in the country, giving rise to a debate on cyberbullying and treatment of young gays and lesbians.
In April 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court had ruled that the state’s bias-intimidation law was unconstitutional, giving hope to Ravi and his lawyers that his conviction would be reversed and he will be accorded a new trial.
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