After former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was exonerated by the appeals court, New Jersey State Senator Joseph Vitale, who
sponsored the anti-bias law which was the basis to
convict Ravi earlier, felt Ravi’s conviction should
have been upheld.
Ravi’s conviction was overturned after the New
Jersey Supreme Court declared parts of the law
Senator Vitale said he was looking to
amend the law to conform to the state
Supreme Court’s decision.
Ravi, Vitale said, tampered with evidence
and witnesses, tried to twice invade the pri-
vacy of his Rutgers room mate, Tyler
Clementi, who later committed suicide.
‘You don’t do something twice and call it a
mistake. He did all those things and
whether he was motivated by bias or not is
irrelevant,’ Senator Vitale said. ‘He
shouldn’t get away scot-free on this. All of
those acts took place, whether they were
motivated by bias or not.’
Ravi was arrested after Clementi jumped
to his death from the George Washington Bridge on
September 22, 2010. Both Clementi and Ravi were 18-year-
The prosecution said Clementi had jumped off the bridge
after learning that Ravi had set up a webcam to spy on him
having an intimate relationship with another man on
September 19, 2010.
Ravi was also charged with urging others to watch a telecast on September 21, though it was never broadcast.
He was convicted by the trial court on 15 charges, including
invasion of privacy, attempted invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering apprehension. But
he was not charged in Clementi’s death.
Ravi served 30 days in jail, 300 hours of community
work and three years probation before the appellate
court reversed his sentence.
The appellate court agreed with Ravi’s attorneys that he
should never have been charged with bias crimes.
The court also ordered a new trial since it felt Ravi did not
receive a fair trial.
The prosecution has time till the end of September to
appeal the decision. The Middlesex county prosecutor’s office
has not indicated if it will appeal the verdict.
How a new trial will affect Ravi is not clear.
In the appellate court, the prosecution agreed that four of
Ravi’s bias convictions should be declared void. The court
also dismissed Ravi’s conviction on hindering his own apprehension and tampering with witnesses.
The provisions of the bias law, which were struck
down by the New Jersey Supreme Court, allowed a
look at the mental state of the victim rather than
that of the defendant.
The court ruled that the bias law should focus on
the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the
crime, not the victim.
‘The state used evidence revealing the victim’s
(Clementi) reserved demeanor and expressions of
shame and humiliation as a counterweight to
defendant’s cavalier indifference and unabashed
insensitivity to his roommate’s right to privacy and
dignity,’ the appellate court said in its ruling.
‘The prosecutor aggressively pressed this point
to the jury in her eloquent closing argument. It is
unreasonable to expect a rational juror to remain
unaffected by this evidence,’ the appellate judgment noted.
Moreover, the trial judge also prevented Ravi’s
attorney from submitting evidence that could
have indicated Clementi’s state of mind was unrelated to Ravi’s video, Ravi’s attorney Steven Alt-erman said.
Joe and Jane Clementi, Tyler
Clementi’s parents, said they are even more focused now on
preventing on-line bullying.
The Clementis said their son’s private moments were
‘stolen from him’ and used to humiliate him. ‘His life was for-
ever affected and the lives of those who knew and loved him
have been forever changed.’
They said they want to raise awareness of the harsh impli-
cations of impulsive actions online and urged people to think
twice about engaging in cyber bullying.
‘In light of the decision, we will do what we encourage all
people to do before they push that send button, and that is to
pause and consider the implications of their message,’ Joe
and Jane Clementi said in a statement issued through the
Tyler Clementi Foundation. ‘Does it encourage and build
someone up or does it destroy and harm another person?’
Gulab Bhatia — the husband of Himanshu Bhatia, chief executive officer, Rose International, aninfor-
mation technology staffing and consulting
firm facing a Department of Labor lawsuit
— has denied mistreating their live-in
domestic worker Sheela Ningwal.
The DoL, representing Ningwal, accused
Bhatia of violating the Fair Labor
Standards Act. It alleged that she brought
Ningwal from India for $400 a month fixed
salary — regardless of the number of working hours — and failed to pay a federal minimum wage.
It accused her of abuse, including starvation and making Ningwal sleep near the
The lawsuit also stated that Ningwal’s passport was confiscated and her movement
restricted. She was allowed to go out only
when Bhatia needed Ningwal to travel and
perform domestic service duties at Bhatia’s
penthouse in Miami.
Gulab Bhatia, who works with his wife as
president, Rose International, denied the
“It is shocking. My wife is in shock too,” the
San Juan Capistrano resident told India
Abroad. “She had nothing when she came to
our house, nowhere to go and so we let her
stay. We did not bring her from India. She
Explaining how they hired her, Gulab
Bhatia said Ningwal was a native of Indore,
Madhya Pradesh, and had been looking for a
job at the same time that the Bhatias were
looking for a cook. That was in 2012.
“I wasn’t keeping well and I posted an
advertisement. She called and we hired her
for cooking,” he said.
Gulab Bhatia said Ningwal had told them
she had a master’s degree and was a teacher
in India, that she had came to the US on a
visitor visa and decided to stay here, and that
she had been working in the US for six years.
He said they paid her $1,800 a month and
not the fixed monthly salary of $400 a
month mentioned in the lawsuit. And noting
that they have grown up kids in college, he
added, “Ningwal had to cook only for two
people. How can she say she had to work 15
hours a day, when we are just two of us and
we are out most of the time? She was alone
at the house, enjoying our house with no
“In the beginning she had nothing,”
After working with them for six months,
he said, Ningwal bought a car for $5,000:
“We helped her in buying a car. So, how can
we restrict her from going out?”
She, he added, also bought a computer, a
cell phone, and would also send money to
India to her son and husband.
When asked about her allegations about
her sleeping quarters, Gulab Bhatia said she
had always stayed in the guest bedroom.
“For many months she was sick and my wife
cooked for her and took her to a doctor,” he
continued. “I can’t believe how she can say
awful things about us. I gave her a place to
stay when she had no place to go.”
Asked what he thought was the reason
behind the complaint, Bhatia said, “I think
it’s a shakedown. She has a college-going kid.
She wanted us to sponsor, but we denied.”
Himanshu Bhatia’s attorney Navneet S
Chugh, managing partner and attorney, The
Chugh Firm, told India Abroad, “How can
the court believe that the couple made her
work 14-15 hours a day when the couple are
out at work?”
Chugh claimed that apart from the
$1,800 salary Ningwal was offered food and
stay in lieu of money. “We have proof of pay-
ing her money. I am amazed to see the DoL
compliant. We do not know their intention,”
Asked if the DoL had approached them to
settle the issue, Chugh said, “Twice, two offi-
cers called and we told them the truth —
that we have paid her and have proof. She
has gone to DoL and lied.”
In a statement, Chugh added, ‘The
Bhatia’s, including their children, treated Ms
Ningwal with utmost decency and consid-
ered her a part of their family in every man-
ner. The Department of Labor has recklessly
filed a complaint without doing an ounce of
due diligence, or bothering to understand
the basic facts in this matter…
‘We are 100 percent confident that the
complaint will be found so and thrown out
in due time.’
‘I think it’s a shakedown’
Gulab Bhatia, the husband of businesswoman
Himanshu Bhatia who has been accused of
mistreating their domestic worker,
tells Ritu Jha his side of the story.
A community protest in Dharun Ravi’s, inset, support at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey, May 2012. P H O
Fresh trial for Dharun Ravi, earlier conviction overturned