Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student who is facing hate-crime charges after allegedly filming his roommate's sexual encounter with another man and streaming it online, rejected a plea deal on Friday that would have spared him jail time.
Under the deal offered by prosecutors in Middlesex County, N.J., Ravi, 19, an Indian citizen, would have agreed to 600 hours of community service and counseling and promised to dispose of any information identifying the other man involved in the sexual encounter. In exchange, he would have avoided jail time and gotten help avoiding deportation.
Now, having refused to plead guilty, Ravi will stand trial next February on 15 charges, including bias intimidation -- a hate crime -- and invasion of privacy. His former roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, killed himself after the incident last September by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, but Ravi is not charged in connection with his death.
If he is convicted and the federal government sees any of the offenses as aggravated, it could deport him. Prosecutors said they would not help him avoid deportation unless he agreed to the plea deal.
But Ravi, who allegedly tweeted that Clementi was making out with a dude and invited his friends to watch the video, denies that he acted out of bias against gay people.
He's innocent. He's not guilty, Ravi's lawyer, Steven Altman, told The Associated Press. That's why he rejected the plea.
A second Rutgers student, Molly Wei, 19, is charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly watching the video with Ravi. She pleaded guilty in May but reached a deal with prosecutors under which the charges against her will be dropped if she testifies against Ravi, does 300 hours of community service and completes a three-year program on cyber-bulling and alternative lifestyles.
Clementi's parents, Jane and Joseph Clementi, released a statement in October saying that, while they wanted all the facts to come to light and Ravi to be held accountable, they did not think justice required a harsh penalty.