Roommate charged with hate crime in New Jersey suicide

TRENTON, N.J. — A former Rutgers University freshman was indicted Wednesday on a hate crime charge after allegedly using a webcam to spy on a same-sex encounter involving his roommate, who committed suicide shortly afterward in a case that started a national conversation on bullying.

A 15-count indictment was handed up Wednesday by a Middlesex County grand jury against Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, who had already faced invasion of privacy charges along with another student, Molly Wei.

The indictment charges Ravi with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, and other counts stemming from the suicide of Tyler Clementi, 18, in September. The indictment said charges against Wei would not be presented to the grand jury "at this time."

Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River shortly after authorities say Ravi and Wei used a webcam to peek at his liaison. Lawyers for Ravi say the webcam stream was viewed on only a single computer and did not show the men having sex.

The indictment says Ravi targeted Clementi and invaded his privacy knowing that Clementi would be intimidated because of his sexual orientation.

According to the indictment, Ravi deleted a Twitter post letting others know how they could view a second encounter involving Clementi and replaced it with a false tweet; deleted text messages sent and received by witnesses; and gave false information to police — all actions intended to mislead investigators.

If convicted of the most serious bias charge, Ravi could face five to 10 years in prison.

Roommate charged with hate crime in New Jersey suicide 04/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 11:54pm]

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