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Ex-Rutgers Student Challenges Hate Crime Conviction in Webcam Spying Case

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday June 13, 2012

Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi will file an appeal against his hate crime conviction in the much-publicized webcam spying case, the ((Newark) Star-Ledger reported.

In late May Ravi, 20, was sentenced to 30 days in jail. The ruling sparked outrage, as many believed that the sentence was too harsh while others said the punishment was lenient.

The defense says that it is "challenging the constitutionality of the bias intimidation law under which the former Rutgers freshman was convicted," according to the article.

Ravi was found guilty of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and hindering police investigation in March. Jurors decided that the ex-student had homophobic motives when he set up a live Internet stream of a romantic moment between his roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, and another man. Ravi also tweeted about the incident and invited others to watch a second encounter.

A few days after the incident, Clementi took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, filed the notice, which explained why the defense wants to appeal the convictions for bias intimidation and the other charges against the 20-year-old. The notice claims that the bias intimidation statue is unconstitutional when applied to Ravi's case and the decisions made by Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman "prejudiced the defendant's ability to get a fair trial."

The prosecution has already appealed the court's ruling.

Ravi could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison on the second-degree bias charges, but Berman gave him a punishment of just 30 days in jail. He also was slammed with three years probation and 300 hours of community service. Ravi will have to go to counseling and donate $10,000 to an organization that helps victims of hate crimes as well.

Julia McClure, an attorney who handled the state's case, filed an appeal as soon as Ravi was sentenced. It could take years before the appeal is decided, however. McClure said she wants the young man to be sentenced to five years in state prison.

Ravi is currently serving his 30-day jail sentence so he can "get on with his life," he said in a statement.