NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A New Jersey Superior Court judge has sentenced former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi to 30 days in prison and three years probation for spying on his gay roommate who later committed suicide.
Ravi was convicted earlier this year on charges of invasion of privacy, witness tampering, tampering of evidence, and bias intimidation, actions that prosecutors said led to the suicide of his college roommate, Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death in September 2010.
Judge Glenn Berman sentenced Ravi to 30 days in the Middlesex County Adult Detention facility, three years probation including a requirement the Ravi complete 300 hours of community service, and attend a counseling program relative to cyber-bullying and alternate lifestyles.
Ravi was also ordered to pay $10,000 to the probation department, the monies to be allotted to a program dedicated to victims of bias-motivated crimes.
As Berman sentenced Ravi, he was purposeful to note that he has never heard Ravi apologize for his actions that contributed to Clementi’s suicide.
“I heard this jury say guilty 288 times: 24 questions, 12 jurors, that’s the multiplication,” Berman said. “And I haven’t heard you apologize once.”
Berman also said he will recommend that Ravi not be deported.
“This individual was not convicted of a hate crime, he was convicted of a bias crime,” Berman said, adding that Ravi’s crimes were committed out of “colossal insensitivity.”
“Down the road you can expunge this judgement,” Berman said. “You cannot expunge the conduct or the pain you caused.”
However, he said that the sentence was necessary to deter others, “even if it isn’t a deterrent to you.”
The India-born Ravi received only a fraction of the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The guilty charges could also have resulted in Ravi, who is in the U.S. on a student visa, being deported.
Clementi, 18, jumped to his death from the George Washington bridge on Sept. 22, 2010 after Ravi placed a camera in their dorm room three days earlier and streamed images onto the internet of Clementi’s intimate same-sex encounter, and used Twitter to encourage fellow students to watch.
Ravi, now 20, was also accused of setting up his webcam to try to capture Tyler in a second liaison two days later.
The Clementi family, addressing Ravi in their victim impact statements,
highlighted Ravi’s apparent lack of remorse about the incidents which caused them loss of the son and
“He was very vulnerable and he was shaken by the cold criminal actions of
his roommate,” said Tyler’s father,
Joseph Clementi, choking on the words as he read his statement in the court.
“We are seeking justice and accountability, not revenge,” adding that he felt Ravi has shown a “lack of any
James Clementi, Tyler’s brother, said Ravi has never shown any remorse or apologized to the family, and he has found himself wondering if Ravi is “even capable of empathizing with another person.”
“I ask only for fairness and justice,” James Clementi said. He added that it was apparent that Ravi decided Tyler was “someone who deserved to be laughed at, picked on and violated.”
“Tyler’s final days and hours were filled with fear, shame and a despair so great it ripped him away from me forever,” said James Clementi.
Tyler’s mother, Jane Clementi, called Ravi’s actions “malicious and evil.”
“What I want is justice,” she said. “The court needs to show … this was not right and it was not acceptable behavior and it will not be tolerated.”
She asked why no one else in the dorm spoke up for Tyler. “How could they all go along with such meanness?” she asked. “No one spoke up to the mastermind, the computer genius,” she said adding that Ravi’s actions were “mean-spirited, they are evil and most important they are against the law.”
Richard Pompelio, the lawyer for M.B. — the man who was caught on the web camera in the romantic encounter with Tyler Clementi — read from a written statement from his client, who stated, “While I bear no anger towards Mr. Ravi, after much thought and many sleepless nights, I must say that Mr. Ravi should serve some type of confinement so that he can reflect on the serious harm he has caused … I do not believe that he has taken responsibility for his conduct, and to this day he seems to blame me for the actions he took.”
New Jersey’s Garden State Equality issued this statement following sentencing:
“We have been public in taking a position of balance: We opposed throwing the book at Dharun Ravi. We have spoken out against giving him the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and against deporting him. That would have been vengeance beyond punishment and beyond sending a message to the rest of society.
“But we have similarly rejected the other extreme that Ravi should have gotten no jail time at all, and today’s sentencing is closer to that extreme than the other. This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry. This was not a crime without bias.”
Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, complained that Ravi’s term was shorter than the 90-day sentence mandated for a three-time shoplifter.
Berman stayed the sentence at the request of Prosecutor Julia McClure, who said that the state will appeal, as prosecutors had asked for a more significant sentence to be levied against Ravi.
Defense lawyers also indicated that they would appeal as well.
Ravi, who never testified in his own defense, refused to respond to repeated questions shouted from the crowd by reporters and spectators.
Filed under: New Jersey