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Is Rutgers Spying Case Destined For a New Trial in New Brunswick?

Prosecutor Asks Appeals Court to Reconsider Decision Ordering New Trial For Ravi
Dharun Ravi
Dharun Ravi Sean Monahan

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A lot has changed since Dharun Ravi was convicted of using his laptop computer to spy on his roommate at Rutgers University, the late Tyler Clementi, during a sexual encounter.

Clementi took his own life just two days after learning of the incident, where Ravi and another student briefly watched Clementi being intimate with another man by remotely activating his laptop's built-in camera.

Ravi was convicted on more than fifteen criminal counts including invasion of privacy, bias crimes, hindering his apprehension, and witness tampering, in the bizarre case which attracted national attention, and galvanized opponents of bullying and advocates for gay rights.

The case was perhaps the biggest trial in recent history to take place at the Middlesex County Courthouse in downtown New Brunswick.

But, in 2015, the state's Supreme Court ruled that the New Jersey bias intimidation law responsible for some of Ravi's convictions was unconstitutional.

That's why it was not a big surprise when a state appeals court overturned the convictions on September 9,  siding with Ravi and his attorneys at the powerful firm Benedict & Altman.

In its opinion, the court arguing that evidence presented by prosecutors regarding the bias crimes "tainted" the jury with regard to the other charges Ravi faced.

Still, the appeals court did not hold back in its condemnation of Ravi's behavior.

“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,” read the opinion, according to the New York Times.

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

The Davidson dormitories where the two young men lived did not re-open this fall for the first time in a decades, as reported by the Daily Targum, just one sign of how much time has passed since the tragic case.

Since the Superior Court trial concluded in 2012, both the judge Glenn Berman and the county's prosecutor Bruce Kaplan resigned their positions, with the latter being named a judge by Governor Chris Christie.

Ravi ultimately served two-thirds of a 30-day jail sentence, but the sentence was appealed by both his attorneys and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO).

Middlesex County's controversial prosecutor Andrew Carey is now asking the same court to reconsider its decision overturning the high-profile conviction won by the office of his predecessor. 

Carey's office filed a "motion to reconsider" on September 16, according to a MCPO press release, obtained by New Brunswick Today despite all of our reporters being removed from the agency's media list.

"The motion also asks the court to correct factual errors it made in reaching its decision, which was handed down on September 9, 2016."

Ravi, who hails from Plainsboro, and Clementi, a Bergen County resident, had not been a good match as roommates in their Piscataway dormitory, and the incident has led to significant changes in how Rutgers University handles its on-campus housing program.

Clementi took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, just a few weeks into his first semester at Rutgers.