Image: Dharun Ravi
Julio Cortez  /  AP
Nineteen-year-old Dharun Ravi, left, was formally notified in May of the 15 charges he faces in court. staff and news service reports
updated 8/11/2011 7:10:15 PM ET 2011-08-11T23:10:15

Lawyers for a former Rutgers student accused of spying on his roommate's same-sex liaison with a webcam have asked a court to drop charges against him, saying there's no evidence he ever watched the footage.

Video: ARCHIVE: Student’s suicide probed as hate crime (on this page)

The case garnered worldwide attention after the roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, committed suicide a few days after the alleged spying took place.

Dharun Ravi, 19, is facing 15 charges including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and evidence tampering.

In a motion filed Thursday with the New Jersey Superior Court, Ravi's lawyer, Steve Altman, asks that the charges be dropped and also that the prosecution produce evidence used in the indictment of Ravi, including police reports relating to Clementi's suicide, as well as information from Clementi's computer.

A brief filed with the motion states that prosecutors never produced evidence to the grand jury that Ravi ever viewed the footage from the webcam or if he did view the footage, that he saw any sexual images.

Ravi was indicted on the 15 charges in April.

The case against Ravi
Authorities say the case began in early August 2010, when Ravi learned that he'd be rooming with Clementi in his first year at Rutgers.

Soon after that, he posted a message on his Twitter account: "Found out my roommate is gay," and linked to a thread that Clementi is believed to have posted on a gay community chat room.

Then on Sept. 19, 2010, according to Twitter archives stored by Google, he tweeted again: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

Authorities say that was the night Ravi used the webcam to spy on his roommate — and that he tried to do it again two nights later.

Clementi, an aspiring violinist, killed himself Sept. 22 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after learning of the online video stream of his homosexual encounter, authorities said.

Prosecutors say that Ravi deleted Twitter and text messages to cover up the alleged crimes.

The most serious charges he faces are bias intimidation, which can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. To be found guilty of that crime, a jury would have to be persuaded that Clementi believed he was being targeted because he was gay.

One of the witnesses in the case is Molly Wei, a fellow Rutgers student who is also charged with invasion of privacy in the case. In May she was accepted into a pretrial intervention program. Charges against her will be dropped in three years if she meets a series of conditions, including cooperating with investigators.

Her lawyer says she's been cooperating since the beginning.

In a May court appearance, Clementi's father read a short statement: "Our family is grateful for the active work of the prosecutor's office in this case," he said. "We are eager to see the criminal justice process move forward."

The Associated Press contributed to this report from

Video: Not guilty plea in suicide webcam case


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