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Opening statements set for Rutgers student accused in cyber-bullying case

From the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:28 AM EST, Fri February 24, 2012
Rutgers student Tyler Clementi killed himself after an alleged invasion of privacy by another student.
Rutgers student Tyler Clementi killed himself after an alleged invasion of privacy by another student.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dharun Ravi faces a 15-count indictment involving hate crime charges
  • He has turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid jail time
  • The offer would have required 600 hours of community service, among other things
  • Roommate Tyler Clementi killed himself after he was secretly filmed having a sexual encounter with a man

(CNN) -- Opening statements are scheduled for Friday in the case of a former Rutgers University student who allegedly used a webcam to stream footage of his roommate's sexual encounter with another man.

Dharun Ravi faces a 15-count indictment, which includes hate crime charges, in connection with the death of Tyler Clementi, Ravi's roommate. Clementi killed himself after the incident, jumping from the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey.

Last year, Ravi turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid jail time.

"You want to know why he's rejected the plea?" his attorney, Steven Altman, said in December. "Simple principle of law, simple principle of life -- he's innocent. He's not guilty."

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

The 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.

A second student charged in the scandal, Molly Wei, 19, reached a plea deal and that requires her to testify against Ravi.

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

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