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Rutgers student rejects plea deal in cyber-bullying case

From Adam Reiss, CNN
updated 11:20 AM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dharun Ravi has turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid jail time
  • He will instead go to trial in February over a 15-count indictment involving hate crime charges
  • His roommate, Tyler Clementi, later killed himself, jumping from the George Washington Bridge
  • The plea deal would have required 600 hours of community service, among other things

New York (CNN) -- A former Rutgers University student who allegedly used a web cam to stream footage of his roommate's sexual encounter with another man has turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid jail time.

Dharun Ravi's attorneys said their client will instead go to trial in February in New Brunswick, New Jersey, over a cyber-bullying case that helped expose the issue on school campuses and that has fed anti-bullying efforts across the nation.

He faces a 15-count indictment involving hate crime charges.

Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself following the incident, jumping from the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey.

The plea deal offered by Middlesex County prosecutors would have required Ravi, 19, to undergo 600 hours of community service, counseling and to dispose of any information that could identify the man that Clementi was with.

Prosecutors also offered to help Ravi avoid deportation, though they said they could not guarantee it.

Ravi is a citizen of India who was studying in the U.S. legally.

A second student charged in the scandal, Molly Wei, 19, entered a plea of not guilty in May to two counts of invasion of privacy.

She reached a plea deal agreeing to testify against Ravi, who allegedly set up the room's camera.

Should Wei complete a three-year program on cyber-bullying and alternate and cultural lifestyles, as well as 300 hours of community services without any additional legal troubles, the invasion of privacy charges for allegedly watching the video will be dropped, according to prosecutors.

Less than a month after Clementi's apparent suicide, President Barack Obama released a taped video message condemning such acts.

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