A suicide and ensuing court case that made headlines a few years back are in the news again. It involved Tyler Clementi -- a Rutgers University student who jumped off a bridge to his death in 2010 after he was surreptitiously recorded kissing another man by his roommate, Dharun Ravi.
Ravi used a webcam to view the encounter, and then shared it on social media. After learning what happened, prosecutors say the 18-year-old Clementi jumped into the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi was convicted on 15 counts, including four of bias intimidation. He could have gotten 10 years behind bars. However, the judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail, community service and three years' probation. He served just 20 days. Prosecutors appealed the sentencing, arguing that it was too lenient.
Judges Determine Bias Intimidation Counts "Tainted" Jury's Decision on Other Charges
However, Ravi's attorney also later filed an appeal as well, asking for a new trial based on a New Jersey Supreme Court case the following year. In that case, justices ruled that the intent of the alleged perpetrator was more important than the victim's perception of a bias intent. While Middlesex County prosecutors agreed to overturning the bias intimidation charges, they argued that the other counts should stand.
However, a three-judge panel determined on Sept. 9 that the evidence used by prosecutors against Ravi on the bias intimidation counts "tainted the jury's verdict on the remaining charges, depriving defendant of his constitutional right to a fair trial." Ravi will face a new trial on the invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and other charges, minus the bias counts. In their ruling, the judges, despite their decision, said, "The social environment that transformed a private act of sexual intimacy into a grotesque voyeuristic spectacle must be unequivocally condemned in the strongest possible way."
Will There Be A Harsher Ruling?"
It remains to be seen whether Ravi benefits from this new trial, which likely will renew the conversation sparked by the original one of anti-gay bullying and suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens -- a conversation that has increased in the ensuing years. It could also potentially lead to a harsher sentence than was originally handed down to Ravi, who will once again be in the spotlight.
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