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Appeals Court orders new trial for Dharun Ravi

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Dharun Ravi
Dharun Ravi

Dharun Ravi

NEWARK, N.J. (Diya TV) — A New Jersey appeals court on Sept. 9 tossed the 15-count conviction of Dharun Ravi, a former student at Rutgers University whose roommate killed himself after being captured on a webcam kissing another man.

The three-judge panel dismissed four bias intimidation counts against Ravi because of a change in state law since his 2012 trial.

Judges ordered a new trial take place on other counts including invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension because, they wrote, the evidence prosecutors used to prove the bias charges “tainted the jury’s verdict on the remaining charges, depriving defendant of his constitutional right to a fair trial.”

Ravi faced up to a maximum of 10 years in prison, however, he was sentenced to 30 days in county jail plus three years’ probation and community service. He ended up serving 20 days.

Prosecutors had argued before the appeals court that the sentencing judge overstepped his authority by imposing a sentence that was too lenient. The Sept. 9 ruling rendered that argument moot.

The parents of Tyler Clementi, Ravi’s ex-roommate, formed a foundation that addresses bullying and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

During his three-week-long trial, jurors were told that in Sept. 2010 Ravi used a friend’s computer to view a few seconds of live streaming video from his own dorm-room webcam and saw Clementi, his roommate, and another man kissing. He told others about it in person, in texts, instant messages and tweets, and alerted others again two days later that Clementi, 18, wanted the room to himself again. That time, the camera did not operate.

One night later, Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge. The case against Ravi prompted a national conversation about anti-gay bullying and teen suicide, and highlighted the pervasive effects and potential harm of social media.

Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, cited in his appeal a 2013 state supreme court ruling that made a victim’s perception of an alleged bias incident less important than the alleged perpetrator’s intent.

“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 judges wrote. “The fact that this occurred in a university dormitory, housing first-year college students, only exacerbates our collective sense of disbelief and disorientation.”

Altman told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that he was pleased with the court’s decision in ordering a new trial.

“We genuinely felt that the basis of the conviction and the basis of the presentation of the state’s case was wrong,” Altman said, adding: “Dharun Ravi, whatever he did or didn’t do, had no homophobic motive involved.”

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FTX’s Nishad Singh got $543 million loan

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More fallout from the FTX cryptocurrency platform collapse. Court documents show its affiliate Alameda Research loaned executives like Sam Bankman Fried $1 billion and more than $500 million to Indian American Nishad Singh, FTX’s top engineer. FTX’s interim CEO says never in his career has he seen such complete failure of corporate controls and a complete absence of trustworthy financial information. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it was unable to come up with customer funds.

Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison after her conviction in January for defrauding investors while running the failed blood testing start up Theranos.In her trial, Holmes alleged she was in the midst of a decade-long abusive relationship with her then-boyfriend and Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. The Indian American was also found guilty for his role in this fraud and will be sentenced later.

Starting next month, India will assume the G20 presidency for a year and chair more than 200 meetings, leading the way for global economic growth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country’s leadership here will be inclusive, ambitious, and decisive.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Arvind Venkat & Tarik Khan win Pennsylvania State seats

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) – Looking back at the midterm elections, Arvind Venkat and Tarik Khan made history as the first South Asian Americans elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Advocacy group Indian American Impact played a major role on the ground, saying it trained and mobilized 200 volunteers to go door-to-door, to engage voters and provide info they needed to elect new leadership.

After 35 years, the Nancy Pelosi era is officially coming to an end. The speaker from San Francisco announced she’s bowing out of leadership, but will retain her House seat. The midterms cost Pelosi’s Democratic party the House and effectively ended her speakership.

Two former Indian American executives at Meta Platforms will launch a new non fungible token start up for creators. Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi have raised more than $8 million for their new company called Virtualness. But they are facing headwinds as the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse is putting pressure on the entire industry.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Meet FTX insider Nishad Singh

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The controversy around failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX continues to captivate the world. Part of the scrutiny is now on the people involved, including Indian American Nishad Singh. According to new reports, this techie was part of FTX’s inner circle, which lived together and ran the cryptocurrency empire from the Bahamas. The software engineer was also reportedly aware that FTX secretly transferred customer funds worth billions of dollars to its sister firm Alameda Research. Currently, no one is facing any criminal charges. Diya TV featured Singh more than a decade ago for running ultra marathons as a 17 year old getting ready for college. 

Former President Donald Trump has officially announced he is running for president in 2024, marking his third bid for the White House. Trump had been hinting at this announcement for months, as the embattled former president faces multiple criminal and civil litigations and as his party is grappling with a worse than expected showing in the midterm elections. 

At the G20 Summit in Bali, world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are coming together to condemn the rising threat of nuclear weapons as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to raise tension and anxiety around the world.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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