Conviction Overturned for Roommate in Tyler Clementi Suicide, Even as Court Blasts His 'Grotesque' Behavior

In its decision, the New Jersey appeals court determined evidence presented by the prosecution during Ravi's trial ultimately "tainted" the jury's eventual verdict

Photo: Mel Evans/AP

On Friday, a New Jersey appeals court overturned the conviction of Dharun Ravi, PEOPLE confirms.

The court has also ordered a new trial for the former Rutgers University student – who was found guilty four years ago of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation after secretly filming roommate Tyler Clementi‘s romantic encounters with another man, days before Clementi killed himself.

Attorneys for Ravi, who was found guilty in 2012, argued that a recent change in the state’s bias law should nullify their client’s conviction. His defense has long argued Ravi’s actions did not play a role in Clementi’s death.

In its decision, the New Jersey Superior Court’s appellate division determined evidence presented by the prosecution during Ravi’s trial ultimately “tainted” the jury’s verdict.

But the court nonetheless “condemned” Ravi’s conduct.

“The social environment that transformed a private act of sexual intimacy into a grotesque voyeuristic spectacle must be unequivocally condemned in the strongest possible way,” the court said in its decision.

“The fact that this occurred in a university dormitory, housing first-year college students, only exacerbates our collective sense of disbelief and disorientation,” the court said. “All of the young men and women who had any association with this tragedy must pause to reflect and assess whether this experience has cast an indelible moral shadow on their character.”

In their opposition to the appeal, prosecutors argued Ravi’s sentencing judge imposed too light a sentence

Neither Middlesex County prosecutors nor Ravi’s defense immediately responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Criminal charges were filed against Ravi in 2010 soon after Clementi, his roommate, killed himself. Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge days after Ravi shared the invasive webcam footage with other students.

After his conviction, Ravi was sentenced to serve 30 days in the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick, New Jersey, and was ordered to pay more than $11,000 in fines.

Additionally, Ravi had to complete 309 hours of community service and counseling and was on probation until this year.

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While he had been facing 10 years prison time, Ravi ended up serving just 20 days in jail and was released in June 2012.

Ravi has said his actions were motivated by stupidity, not homophobia: “I did do things wrong and I was stupid about a lot of stuff. I was a dumb kid not thinking about it,” he previously told ABC News.

And he told the Star-Ledger, “I didn’t act out of hate and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay.”

“It’s far from over,” Ravi’s attorney Steven Altman said Friday after the ruling, according to “I’m extraordinarily pleased with the decision. I haven’t spoken with the Ravi family yet, but I can only imagine they’re pleased as well.”

In a statement issued Friday, Tyler’s parent, Joe and Jane Clementi, said the ruling “shows us how much more work there is to be done, and will push us forward with stronger determination to create a kinder more empathic society where every person is valued and respected.”

The Clementis added: “We know that Tyler’s private moments were stolen from him and used to humiliate him. His life was forever affected and the lives of those who knew and loved him have been forever changed. We will continue to work even harder sharing Tyler’s story through the Tyler Clementi Foundation and our many partners.”

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