A New Jersey judge sentenced a former Rutgers student to 30 days in jail for using a webcam to spy on his roommate kissing another man.
Dharun Ravi, 20, was convicted on two second-degree bias intimidation charges in a case that garnered national headlines because his roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide after the spying.
Clementi, 18, jumped from the George Washington Bridge three days after learning that a September 2010 encounter with an older man was seen by a computer-mounted camera Ravi had set up in their dorm room. The case highlighted the issues of gay bullying and teen suicide.
The judge also placed Ravi on three years of probation. Ravi faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in a more strict and secure prison. The judge spared the stiffer prison time, and did not recommend Ravi be deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen. Ravi was also ordered to get counseling and to pay $10,000 toward a program to help victims of bias crimes.
Judge Glenn Berman said he would not recommend Ravi be deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen. But Ravi was ordered to get counseling and to pay $10,000 that would go to a program to help victims of bias crimes.
A jury in March convicted Ravi of hate crimes for spying on the encounter through a webcam and for trying to get others to do the same when the man visited again. Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi's death.
Tyler Clementi's family asked the judge today to sentence Dharun Ravi to prison time.
The Associated Press reported that Clementi's father, Joseph Clementi, told the judge during the sentencing hearing, "One of Tyler's last actions was to check Ravi's Twitter page" and noted that his son checked his roommate's Twitter page 37 times before leaving the Rutgers campus and driving to the bridge where he jumped to his death. It was unclear why he checked Ravi's Twitter page so many times.
Ravi did not speak during Monday's sentencing hearing.
The lead prosecutor in the case had asked for "a period of imprisonment" in her sentencing brief but according to Reuters did not seek the maximum 10-year sentence. The prosecution team wrote that Ravi "has failed to accept any degree of responsibility for the numerous criminal acts he committed, and shows no remorse for the same, despite significant evidence pointing directly at him."
Ravi's defense attorneys sought probation for Ravi, noting that he has no previous criminal record. The defense team also is appealing the verdict and seeking a new trial.
Before the sentencing, Ravi's parents and Clementi's parents each made appeals.
Ravi's parents attended a rally recently at New Jersey's State House in Trenton of several hundred supporters, many of them Indian or Indian-American, the Associated Press reported. The protesters said that Ravi, an Ultimate Frisbee player and computer whiz, should not have been convicted of hate crimes because he does not hate gay people and that prison is too harsh a punishment for someone who did not mean to hurt anyone, according to the AP.
His mother, Sabitha Ravi, aimed her words at journalists at the rally, saying that those who covered the trial should speak up against her son being sent to prison. "You were quiet there. Why don't you wake up now and bring some justice for Dharun?" she asked in the AP story.
The AP report said Clementi's parents had communicated mostly through written statements or by reading prepared statements after court proceedings. In one, they said they wanted Ravi to be held accountable but that he need not be subject to a "harsh" punishment.
They also told the AP they have started a foundation to honor their son and have talked about how he had come out as gay to them days before he started at Rutgers University.
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