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Views & Voices

Tyler Clementi gets no justice

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tyler Clementi was bullied to death and the Judge heard guilty 288 times, yet sentenced his convicted antagonist to 30 days, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 donation.

A New Jersey judge on Monday handed down a sentence of 30 days in jail for the former Rutgers University student convicted of committing a bias crime for using a webcam to spy on a dorm room liaison between his gay roommate Tyler Clementi and Clementi’s boyfriend.

Tyler Clementi

Clementi took his own life days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, creating an uproar among gay activists and attracting international media attention over the issue of anti-gay bullying and harassment.

Many believe the action by defendant Dharun Ravi, 20, was responsible for Clementi’s suicide.

A jury convicted Ravi on several felony counts, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness-tampering and hindering efforts by police to investigate the case. He faced a possible sentence of ten years in prison.

Middlesex County, N.J., Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman said in court on Monday that Ravi should not be held responsible for Clementi’s death:- “I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” Berman said in explaining his sentence. “He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.” Berman said the bias crime to which Ravi was convicted is not the same as a hate crime. He called the sentence he imposed “measured” and “balanced.”

I have yet to see the actual sentencing transcript for myself, but relying on the accuracy of media reports, I see nothing but excuses and contradictions from the Judge.

Apparently Garden State Equality, the statewide LGBT lobbying group had called for a “balanced” response, issued a statement suggesting that the sentence was too lenient.

Perhaps our activists groups should keep their noses out of this type of pre-sentence call, given that the Judge may well have over tipped the scale “balancing” it toward its own homophobic sense of justice.

“We opposed throwing the book at Dharun Ravi,” said chairman Steven Goldstein. “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,” he said. “This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry. This was not a crime without bias.”

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has a vacation home in New Jersey with her new spouse Kim Catullo, slammed the sentence and said that the “system of justice has failed.”

Dharun Ravi, seated during sentencing

What surprises me is the fact that Ravi showed no remorse, did not apologize and yet received such leniency. In fact
he failed to stand up while being sentenced which shows that he has yet
to succumb or take responsibility for his crimes. Surely the Judge should have taken this into account?

This is an outrage and a slap in the
face, not only to the judicial system by
the Judge, but to all who have experienced homophobia under the
cloak of mere and apparently what the Judge now considers an acceptable
bias. This goes a step further by
actually endorsing bias. The Judge has said, in effect, “commit a crime with
bias, do not say sorry, defy judicial authority, and we will apologize for having to sentence you!”

Indeed apparently the judge told the convicted Ravi that his words were not meant to demean Ravi. Why not? It is clear that Ravi had every intention of demeaning his victim. Is a criminal not expected to be reprimanded in a demeaning way by a Judge?

The Judge seems to have contradicted himself:

Prior to issuing the sentence, the judge said that he did not believe that Ravi, who has no prior record, would commit another offense and that he would respond to probationary treatment. However, he said that the sentence was necessary to deter others, “even if it isn’t a deterrent to you.”

While I do not doubt that Ravi was put through a measure of hell, knowing that he could be sentenced to a maximum of ten years and be the subject of deportation, I ask why this Judge even bothered to sentence him, at all – he may have well tickled him under his armpit and sent him home laughing, legitimating an attack on the next victim, whomever and however!

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39 more reader comments:

  1. Absolutely no justice, I hope the appeals process yields a just verdict.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:45am
  2. deport Ravi!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:45am
  3. Should be more like 30 years …there is no justice

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:46am
  4. This was a slap on the face of all the victims that like Clementu have suffered at the hands of douche bags like Ravi. We should ship him back to wherever the hell he came from.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:47am
  5. Then they played some clip of Ravi’s mother on the news, complaining that his sentence was too harsh. He should have gone down for manslaughter, at least.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:47am
  6. Sad…

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:48am
  7. No justice 30 days for a life?

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:48am
  8. 288 guilty verdicts should be 288 months or years. The judge should get sentenced for not giving a longer sentence.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:48am
  9. Absurd!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:49am
  10. Ravi’s mother made a comment about how she hated seeing her son so despondent or whatever and i thought, at least she could see her son. Tyler’s mom can’t anymore. Obviously Ravi wasn’t raised with any kind of moral or ethical guidance.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:50am
  11. Bullying is wrong, and anyone who partakes in it is terrible. But some people need to grow a thicker skin. They need to take action instead of choosing death. It’s a coward’s way out. And I heard a bunch of stories (doesn’t mean I necessarily believe them) that Clementi would use his roommate’s bed to have sex, and he was getting fed up with it.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:51am
  12. I think this is why we need to break the stigma of what it means to be gay! If we can get comfortable with ourselves then people like Ravi cannot hurt us. It helps when we have support from families and friends. Educate families on gay issues so they understand the psychological turmoil that people face when coming out of the closet. Coming out is a very vulnerable time and we need to help them develop strong supports to ward off this ridiculous bullying!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:52am
  13. Now, this approaches a non-LGBT issue I am dealing with, involving a Friend wrongfully accused, incarcerated, and now serving time being bounced around in New York State for something he did not do. It’s not just our LGBT People; it’s everyone suffering under a “justice” system that clearly isn’t working. This man Tyler deserved to live his life in peace, and look at what happened. Unbelievable.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:54am
  14. What the shit? Ravi ain’t had no damn business videotaping his damn roommate. His mom hated to see Ravi so despondent? Well Tyler’s mom hated seeing Tyler in a casket.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:55am
  15. The charge was cyber bullying, not manslaughter or murder or anything else. He was not charged or tried for the death. That said, he will never be able to escape the notoriety and labels he received in this trial. He will walk around with those for the rest of his life.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 9:55am
  16. I don’t think Ravi had the right to do what he did by any means, but I can see his annoyance. He was asked to leave a place that he partly owned (presumably, being a roommate and all.) I would have gotten fed up, too. I’m not into people asking me to get out of my home. What was stopping them from going somewhere else? I’m not defending anyone, because I really don’t care too much about this case, but people seem to be jumping to Clementi’s aid just because he committed suicide. That automatically makes him a victim, I guess?

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:00am
  17. FAIL

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:02am
  18. Tara,
    Ravi suspected Tyler’s friend would rob him. 1 – He didn’t trust his roommate. 2 – He set up camera’s invading Tyler’s privacy. 3 – HE BROADCASTED IT TO THE WHOLE CAMPUS. The whole campus saw Tyler having sex with a guy. It ruined his life.
    Are you saying he got annoyed just because Ravi is fucking cruel?

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:03am
  19. Where the fuck was Tyler wrong asking for some privacy? He was doing his room mate a fucking favour and you say it ”annoyed him”

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:05am
  20. The sentencing was BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:07am
  21. the system failed! then they wonder why people take matters into their own hands …..karma better hit hard in this case

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:10am
  22. How sad. We’ll just have to continue for our cause.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:10am
  23. Yes i agree the system failed big time. But yes we will continue to fight for our cause.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:13am
  24. What puzzles me is that the judge told ravi that he showed no remorse throughout the trial, yet he still dished out such a lenient sentence.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:15am
  25. exactly eddie… I’ve known people to go away for trivial things for longer than that! trivial!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:16am
  26. Judicial bias for sure.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:27am
  27. Hey Tara: If you don’t care about the case, why are you posting about it? Ravi set up a viewing party on twitter with the tag line “Omg, they’re at it again”. He did NOT show any remorse to the Clementi family, he did NOT take any of this seriously, and he even fell asleep during court proceedings! He didn’t give a crap about anyone but himself. He’s a text book sociopath, plain and simple. He deserves MUCH more the he got handed to him.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:28am
  28. 30 days is a Joke! He’s crying now, if I was the judge i’d give him something to cry about, a full 10 year sentence.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:40am
  29. There are way too many points for me to comment on, but one person’s comment on here i will dab in……..
    Tara Heck, How do you let the idea formulate in your head that asking your roommate to let you have the room for a while so you can be ‘alone’ with someone merrits the event to which you were asked to leave to be taped and broadcasted all over the internet and campus??? Being in college, roommates expent that they will have to give up the room for a night or two. What would have happened if teh rolse were reversed??? ALSO, you made a point about rumors that he had sex on his roommate’s bed. AGAIN, before you got in the room, massive amounts of other people slept on that very same bed and were engaged in sexual activities…..so does that give anyone the right to broadcast some one else’s private intamate moments????
    The fact that he was found guilty on 288 counts…..WOW
    30 days in prison for him will be eye opening, such a pretty boy will certainly be useful to ‘big bubba’ and his ‘kick stand’
    300 hours of service, students do that every year for college courses.
    But as Stephanie Knuff said, he will have to walk around with the REAL thought(s) of what he did for teh rest of his life………

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:41am
  30. Only one month?!?! What was Ravi thinking, broadcasting it to the whole school?!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:44am
  31. Ravi and his family should prepare themselves for a huge civil lawsuit by Tyler’s family. If they have not already filed one. I’d nail him for every thing he has now and in the future. Ravi’s mother was upset about her despondent son? Too bad, she still has her son. Ravi should have faced manslaughter charges at the very least and spent years in prison. YEARS!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:46am
  32. Sickens me.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 11:03am
  33. Poor thing..

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 11:15am
  34. I am going to change my profile picture to that of TYLER CLEMENTI in protest of the ridiculously light sentence his roommate received. Let’s get his face ALL OVER FACEBOOK to show the world that bullying should be taken more seriously. Tyler is dead, but we are not. Share with all your friends and let’s keep going until June 22.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 11:37am
  35. While this is disappointing, I agree very much with Garden State Equality’s statement saying that this is too far to the lenient extreme, but they didn’t want the maximum either. Very disappointing indeed that the justice system failed not only Tyler, but the Queer Community at large again.

    However, the amount of xenophobic and racist comments that I am seeing from some people are absolutely appalling. What Ravi did was a heinous act, and he deserves punishment for that, and he should feel the guilt for what he did, and that should weigh on him. But let us not forget that Clementi wasn’t murdered, he killed himself. Clementi was also failed, even though we say we live in a much more tolerant society, he felt so ashamed for being exposed because he was not okay with who he was.

    He was failed by society, and we do him no honour by calling out for vengeance on Ravi. We honour his memory by spreading the word, not only to educate would be bullies, but to empower and inspire our youth, to let them know there is no shame in their love, or in their sex.

    What happened to Tyler was embarrassing, but that with the added stigma of being gay in general created a toxic set of circumstances. A set of circumstances that probably would never have come to light with someone who was more comfortable with themselves. But Tyler was not comfortable with his sexuality, and we can’t place the blame on Ravi for that.

    So instead of calling for Ravi’s head, or for him to be deported, honour Clementi by educating and giving support to all. Remember him by showing compassion where Tyler was shown little.

    I do not think Dharun Ravi got the punishment that was fitting for the crime that he committed, but I am not going to blame his race or culture for his crimes. Also, I am going to forgive him, because he is much a product of a homophobic culture and society that Tyler was, and I’m not talking about his Indian heritage, but rather the culture right here in North America. I am going to hope that he learns from this, and maybe, just maybe he will go out and make a difference tomorrow.

    Our society, our community, our culture failed both of these young men, and we need to take responsibility for that and do something about it. By doing so is the only way to not only honour the memory of Tyler, but everyone who has fallen victim to homophobic violence and discrimination.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:13pm
  36. I know what it feels like to be filmed having sex because it happened to me. I can say it wasn’t a very good feeling and then i was told he deleted it from his computer. I did not know anything about computers then in 2001. I was fucking a guy and he said: I think we are on camera. Yep, the guy had his camera on us.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:35pm
  37. I am saddened by Tyler’s death as well as the family’s pain and loss. I am also saddened by Ravi’s actions and his family’s pain. It is a fact young people of teenage and older that are LGBT have the highest rate of suicides. Let us work toward changing this awful truth.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:37pm
  38. Unbelievable.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 1:51pm
  39. Punishing the other kid beyond what is reasonable isn’t exactly going to bring Tyler back.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 2:41pm