A somber-looking Molly Wei was accepted into a pre-trial intervention program for first-time offenders shortly before 9 a.m. Friday in the webcam-spying case of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi.
Under the conditions approved by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, Wei will have to continue to cooperate with law enforcement, meaning she will testify against Dharun Ravi, who is also charged in the case. She also has to perform 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling or training in cyberbullying and alternative lifestyles and has to work full time – or part time if she is in school.
If she successfully meets those conditions then, after three years, the two invasion of privacy charges against her will be dismissed. If she doesn’t, she will be prosecuted on those charges.
“Our sympathies have always been with the Clementi family,” Rubin Sinins, one of Wei’s attorneys, said after the brief hearing, insisting his client did not commit a crime. “Molly Wei is not a bully.”
Wei and fellow Rutgers student Ravi, both 19, were each charged in the case that may have triggered Clementi’s suicide last year after his intimate encounter with another student was streamed live on the Internet.
Ravi is still to be arraigned May 23 on 15 counts including bias, invasion of privacy and tampering with witnesses and evidence.
Clementi’s father, Joe, says he and his wife Jane supported leniency for Wei.
“Based on the information supplied to us, we understand that Ms. Wei’s actions, although unlawful, were substantially different in their nature and their extent than the actions of Tyler’s former roommate,” he said, reading a statement. “We also understand that Ms. Wei was forthcoming and cooperative during the investigation.”
“Actions have consequences,” he adds. “We wish that Ms. Wei will become a person who will make better decisions, will help people, and show kindness to those she comes in contact with.”
Authorities allege Ravi masterminded the spying and that Wei went along with it when Ravi showed up in her dorm room and asked to use her laptop. Ravi also allegedly tried to cover up the incident while Wei worked with investigators from the beginning, authorities say.
Wei, accompanied by her attorneys, Sinins and Eric Kahn, and her mother, said little during the proceedings, and quickly left court afterward without speaking to reporters.