NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — One of the two former Rutgers students accused of using a webcam to spy on another student’s gay sexual encounter made her first-ever court appearance Friday.
19-year-old Molly Wei has been admitted into a pre-trial intervention program. The move may allow Wei to potentially avoid jail time and a criminal record.
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The agreement requires Wei to cooperate with prosecutors and complete 300 hours of community service. She’ll also be required to get a job.
The former freshman withdrew from Rutgers.
“We’re here to witness this criminal proceeding on Tyler’s behalf, on our behalf, and on behalf of many people throughout the country who are following this case,” Tyler’s father, Joe Clementi said.
It’s was the first time the Clementi family spoke about their tragedy. Clementi’s father said he was okay with Wei’s deal but hopes she learns from her mistake.
“Actions have consequences. We wish that Miss Wei becomes a person who will make better decisions, help people and show kindness to people she comes in contact with,” he said. “We are committed to do what we can to enforce the calls for compassion, and respect for human dignity, that have been made in response to Tyler’s experience.”
If she stays out of trouble for the next three years, Wei, accused of just watching Clementi’s encounter, will have charges dropped, and avoid jail time.
“Molly Wei was unfortunately brought into this. Whether there’s some good that comes out of this for the country in terms of bullying, anti-homophobia, that’s fine. But Molly Wei should not be the poster child for this,” said Erik Khan, Wei’s attorney.
On the Rutgers University campus, students had mixed reactions.
“I would say it’s a fair punishment,” Dory Kalimi said.
“The guy committed suicide,” Dominick Nero said. “I think she should serve some time.”
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Tyler Clementi’s suicide last September shocked the Rutgers New Brunswick campus and intensified the national conversation about bullying against gays and lesbians.
Wei was not indicted, but her friend and classmate Dharun Ravi was. She plans to testify against Ravi.
“We’d like to begin the process of gaining Ms. Wei’s reputation back and so far it’s been tarnished,” her attorney Rubin Sinins said.
Wei, who wore a black business suit to court, answered only simple questions from her lawyer in a court hearing that was over in about 10 minutes. She did not speak to reporters afterward.
“Molly Wei should not be a poster child for this,” one of her lawyers, Eric Kahn, said after her court appearance.
“We understand that Miss Wei’s actions, though unlawful, were substantially different in their nature and their extent than the actions of Tyler’s former roommate,” Joe Clementi said.
Ravi faces 15 criminal counts, including bias intimidation – the most serious charge – for allegedly using his laptop to remotely turn on the webcam in the room he shared with Clementi. Prosecutors said he also tried to persuade friends not to testify against him.
He’s scheduled to be in court on May 23.
Investigators said Ravi was in Wei’s room as they watched Clementi’s same-sex encounter.
Days later, Clementi, who’s from Ridgewood in Bergen County, jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
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