New Jersey man pleads guilty to charge in Rutgers cyber bullying case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former Rutgers University student whose high-profile cyber bullying conviction was overturned last month pleaded guilty on Thursday to attempted invasion of privacy, prosecutors said.

Dharun Ravi, 24, the New Jersey man accused of recording his roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man, was convicted in 2012 on 15 charges, including several bias intimidation counts and invasion of privacy.

Clementi, 18, committed suicide three days after learning Ravi broadcasted images of him and the man online to a group of other students. Clementi’s death sparked a national debate over cyber bullying and discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Ravi, who faced up to 10 years in prison, will be sentenced to the time he has already served on the charges, which was 30 days, allowing him to avoid further prison time for the third-degree offense.

Neither Ravi’s attorney nor a representative for the Clementi family could immediately be reached for comment.

“Reaching the plea agreement was a reasonable way to resolve the case in view of the appellate court decision, which dismissed a series of criminal bias charges that had been leveled against the defendant by a grand jury in Middlesex County,” prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement on Thursday.

Last year, the state’s Supreme Court struck down part of the law under which Ravi was charged as unconstitutionally vague. That led a New Jersey appeals court in September to throw out Ravi’s conviction.

Prosecutors had conceded that Ravi’s guilty verdict on those counts should be vacated but argued that his conviction for other crimes, including invasion of privacy and witness tampering, should stand.

But the Appellate Division of the state Superior Court concluded that none of the convictions could remain in place because the bias allegations loomed over the entire case.

“Our sympathies remain with the victim’s family, which continues to work to protect our at-risk youth,” Carey said.

Ravi’s original sentence also included three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, cyber-bullying counseling and a $10,000 contribution to an organization dedicated to helping victims of bias crimes, all of which he has served.