Roommate in Tyler Clementi Case Pleads Guilty to Attempted Invasion of Privacy

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The former roommate of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman who killed himself six years ago, pleaded guilty on Thursday to attempted invasion of privacy, one of the original 15 counts against him, ending a long and tortuous prosecution in a case that drew international attention.

The roommate, Dharun Ravi, who had used a webcam to spy on Mr. Clementi while he was having sex with another man, was sentenced to time already served and fines paid.

By pleading guilty to the third-degree felony, Mr. Ravi, 24, accepted a deal with state prosecutors to drop all other charges after an appellate court threw out his conviction.

Last month the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey in Newark overturned a lower court’s conviction of Mr. Ravi on several counts of bias intimidation because of a change in state law. The court called for a new trial of Mr. Ravi on 10 other counts that included invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence.

In court on Thursday, prosecutors said they disagreed with the appellate court’s reversal of the bias charges. But prosecutors also said they would most likely lose if they tried to appeal the ruling.

Mr. Ravi was convicted in 2012 after the case prompted a furor over the bullying of gay teenagers like Mr. Clementi, an accomplished violinist who leapt from the George Washington Bridge in 2010. Mr. Clementi’s story was embraced by advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

In a statement, Mr. Clementi’s parents, Joe and Jane Clementi, who started the Tyler Clementi Foundation to combat bullying, said: “We have learned a lot through this process of pleas, convictions, time served and appeals. We learned at the trial that what happened to Tyler was a lot worse than what was initially related to us.”

“We have learned that our legislators need to make constitutionally valid and clear laws,” the statement continued. “And we have learned that witnesses or bystanders need to become upstanders for those in our society like Tyler, who cannot stand up for themselves.”

Prosecutors did not charge Mr. Ravi in the death of Mr. Clementi, who left no explanation for his suicide. But shortly before his death, Mr. Clementi learned that Mr. Ravi had spied on him with a webcam and used social media to encourage others to view his having sex with another man in the dorm room they shared.

In a Twitter message, for example, Mr. Ravi said: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Some of the charges that Mr. Ravi was convicted of fell under a state statute on bias intimidation that was ruled unconstitutional last year by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The statute said defendants could be convicted if their victims “reasonably believed” they were harassed or intimidated because of a characteristic such as race or sexual orientation.

The appeals court dismissed those charges and said that the evidence prosecutors used to prove them had “tainted the jury’s verdict on the remaining charges,” thus depriving Mr. Ravi of a fair trial.

On Thursday, Mr. Ravi wore a trim slate-blue suit, a collarless dress shirt with no tie and tan shoes. Before his hearing he kept his eyes on his cellphone. He had a full black beard that contrasted starkly with the smooth-faced, grinning school portrait circulated widely after his arrest.

When asked by the judge if he had any statement to make before he was sentenced, Mr. Ravi responded, “I have nothing to say.”

Steven D. Altman, Mr. Ravi’s lawyer, said he would file a motion for his client’s criminal record to be expunged, so Mr. Ravi, who is from India, could apply for United States citizenship and move on with his life.

“He just wants to disappear,” Mr. Altman said outside the courtroom.

After his original conviction, Mr. Ravi apologized and served 20 days in jail on some of the charges and was ordered to pay $10,000 to a program aiding victims of hate crimes and to perform community service. But his apology was dismissed by Mr. Clementi’s parents as a “public relations piece.”

The appeals court judges, while overturning Mr. Ravi’s conviction, nonetheless censured his actions in the strongest terms.

“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,” the opinion said. “The fact that this occurred in a university dormitory, housing first-year college students, only exacerbates our collective sense of disbelief and disorientation.”

No friends or relatives of Mr. Clementi were in the courtroom on Thursday. A prosecutor, Christie Bevacqua, said she spoke to Mr. Clementi’s parents as well as the lawyer for the man with whom he had a tryst.

“Both have been consulted and are aware of this decision today,” she said.

Ms. Bevacqua added that she had explained to them that based on the likelihood that the state would lose an appeal of the appellate court’s overturning of Mr. Ravi’s original convictions, she agreed to the plea agreement.

Before the hearing, Mr. Ravi could be overheard saying that he felt he had to fight the original charges because, “I didn’t really have a choice” and “I didn’t know what my future was going to be like.”

He added, “It’s amazing how fast the world moves on, especially these days.”

Afterward he could be heard saying that he was relieved. Moments before Mr. Ravi left the courtroom, joined by his parents, who said the family would not comment, Judge Joseph Paone gave him some parting words.

“Good luck, Mr. Ravi,” he said.

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