Accused in Tyler Clementi case rejects new plea deal

In a Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 file photo, former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, Tyler Clementi's former roommate, sits in Middlesex County, N.J., Court during a motion hearing in New Brunswick, N.J.
Pool,AP Photo/Mark R. Sullivan, File

(CBS/AP) NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on roommate Tyler Clementi's sexual encounter with another man, rejected a plea deal on Friday that would have kept him out of jail.

Pictures: Tyler Clementi

Ravi's lawyer, Steven Altman, says the 19-year-old rejected the deal because, "He's innocent. He's not guilty."

The case sparked a national conversation about the way gay youth can be bullied when Clementi, 18, committed suicide days after Ravi's alleged spying in 2010. Clementi and Ravi were in their first few weeks at the university and court filings of emails, text messages and instant messages show there were tensions between the two students, partly due to Clementi's sexual orientation.

Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death, but faces 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering and bias intimidation. The last is a hate crime under New Jersey law punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.

This isn't the first plea deal Ravi has rejected. In October, he formally rejected a plea bargain that would have come with a recommended sentence of three to five years in prison, but with a chance that the judge could waive any prison time.

In the new deal, Ravi would be put on probation, be required to do 600 hours of community service and receive counseling. The state would also help him try to stave off any attempt by the federal government to deport him.

Ravi, a citizen of India, could face deportation if convicted.

Ravi has less than a month to reconsider the plea deal before the judge in the case says he'll close the window of opportunity for a negotiated plea bargain. The trial is scheduled to begin February 21.

Complete Coverage of Tyler Clementi on Crimesider

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