Plea deal means student to testify against Rutgers roommate

NEW YORK Fri May 6, 2011 12:58pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A student accused in the secret webcast of a Rutgers University student who later committed suicide entered a plea deal on Friday requiring that she testify against the man who allegedly set up the online video.

Part of the deal requires Molly Wei, 19, of West Windsor to testify against Dharun Rhavi, the roommate of Tyler Clementi who leaped off the George Washington Bridge last fall after learning he had been spied upon.

Clementi, 18, was a Rutgers freshman and promising violinist.

Wei pleaded not guilty in Middlesex County Superior Court on Friday to watching the webcast with Ravi and a judge accepted her application into a pretrial intervention program that could drop the two counts of invasion of privacy against her.

In exchange for dismissing the charges, Wei must testify against Ravi, complete 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling on cyberbullying and take classes on dealing with people of alternative lifestyles.

If she violates the terms of the three-year intervention program, prosecutors said the charges will not be dismissed and Wei could be subject to further court action.

Wei's attorney, Rubin Sinins, said he was pleased with the deal, adding, "Molly Wei is not a bully. She is not guilty of criminal conduct."

Clementi's family accepted her deal in a statement that noted "Wei's actions, although unlawful, were substantially different in their nature" from Ravi's.

"Actions have consequences," the Clementi family said in the statement. "We wish Ms. Wei will become a person who will make better decisions, will help people and show kindness to those she comes in contact with."

Hate crime charges against Ravi were handed down last month by a grand jury that issued a 15-count indictment which also charged invasion of privacy and evidence tampering.

Prosecutors accused Ravi, 19, of Plainsboro, New Jersey of setting up the filming of Clementi's encounter with another man, and advertising the live video stream on Twitter. He was accused of staging a cover-up by deleting the Twitter post and replacing it with another one intended to mislead investigators as well as asking witnesses not to testify against him.

Ravi is scheduled to appear in court on May 23.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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Comments (4)
judderwocky wrote:
So how is it somebody can do something that is “unlawful” and yet not be a criminal?

May 06, 2011 1:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RrrrLlllBbbb wrote:
Plea deals are becoming way-too-common. They should be considered illegal and not used!

May 06, 2011 1:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Pontius wrote:
Everyone is so quick to assume Ravi is a hate-mongering homophobe without knowing a damn thing about him beyond his insensitive, misguided actions. If every college freshman faced 10 years in prison for such things, a vast majority of the population would be incarcerated. Prison is no solution here.

The kids who streamed the webcast should certainly be chastised for their actions, but this is turning into a witch hunt. Everyone seems to be losing sight of the fact that Clementi deserves equal shame heaped on him for his cowardly solution to such a temporary problem.

May 06, 2011 10:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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