Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Ex-Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Gets 30-Day Jail Term, Probation
Monday, May 21, 2012
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office says the 30-day sentence given to a former Rutgers student who was convicted of invasion of privacy and a hate crime for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate is "insufficient" and plans on appealing the sentence.
Dharun Ravi was sentenced to serve a 30-day jail term as part of a probationary sentence.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said his office didn't request the maximum length of incarceration — 10 years — but "it was expected that his conviction on multiple offenses of invading the privacy of two victims on two separate occasions, four counts of bias intimidation against Tyler Clementi, and the coverup of those crimes, would warrant more than a 30-day jail term."
Supreme Court Judge Glenn Berman called Ravi's behavior "cold, calculated and methodically conceived." He said he did not believe Ravi hated roommate Tyler Clementi, but believed he acted "out of colossal insensitivity."
“I haven’t heard you apologize once,” Berman told Ravi, who made no statement as he faced a decade or more in jail.
Ravi will begin his sentence on May 31. But prosecutors have 10 days to appeal. He will also serve three years probation, complete 300 hours of community service and attend a counseling program.
Ravi's mother broke down sobbing after she pleaded for leniency in her son's sentencing.
The father of Tyler Clementi told a judge Monday that the former Rutgers student who was convicted earlier this year of bias intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his Clementi, deserves punishment.
Clementi, choking up, said Ravi saw his son as not deserving basic human decency that he saw him as below him because he was gay.
He says Ravi "still does not get it" and has no remorse. He said Ravi engaged in "cold-hearted" deception. Clementi's brother, James, also took the stand.
"I cannot imagine the level of disdain and rejection he felt from his peers," he said.
David Rogoff, president of the Pride Center in New Jersey, an LGBT community center located in Highland Park, N.J., said he didn't think the sentence was harsh enough.
“I think the most damning thing I can say about Dharun Ravi he said in his own words. In an interview after the verdict, he said, ‘I wasn't thinking about Tyler.’ There’s no empathy. There’s no remorse.”
Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a national organization that advocates on behalf of LGBT students on college campuses said, “I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied with any about this trial. I’m not excited or pleased with the sentencing, whether it be three years, five years, 10 years. Tyler Clementi is still gone."
But Windmeyer added his organization’s focus is to educate college campuses on how to create safe spaces. “There were many bystanders,” he said of the case. “The college was a bystander, the other students. At the end of the day all colleges need to teach students not to be bystanders.”
Members of the local Indian continue to show their support for Dharun Ravi and his family. The's sentencing proceedings spilled over into two courtrooms at the Middlesex County Courthouse.
Pradip "Peter" Kothari was among those there to back the family. He says the judge has a very positive attitude towards Ravi.
"And we are happy about it," he said. "Nobody likes the jail time of even one day. But we have to take accept some of the guilt and go on with the life."
Dharun Ravi was convicted in March of 15 charges including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and evidence tampering for spying on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, with a webcam while he was with another man. Days later, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
The judge denied the defense's motion for acquittal and a new trial on Monday.
The case has polarized opinion across the country about whether hate crime statutes should be used for non-violent crimes and whether Ravi is being scapegoated for a wave of bullying cases against gay teenagers.
Ravi continues to say he didn’t remotely turn on his webcam with the intention of seeing his roommate have sex with another man, and that he didn’t care that Clementi was gay.
But the jury said it was swayed by Ravi’s tweets.
“Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay,” he tweeted.
Two days later: “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.”
Lawyers for both sides plan to appeal the sentence. The judge issued a 10 day stay delaying the start of Ravi's sentence.
With the Associated Press