Both Sides Dissatisfied With Sentence in Webcam Spy Trial

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Both the defense and the prosecution are unhappy with the sentence given to Dharun Ravi in the Rutgers webcam spying case.

Dharun Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy and a hate crime for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate. On Monday, he was sentenced to serve a 30-day jail term as part of a probationary sentence.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office says the 30-day sentence is "insufficient" and plans on appealing the 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 cover-up 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.

In handing down the sentence, Berman quoted an email from Clementi himself describing Ravi’s actions as “wildly inappropriate.”

At the same time, Berman pointed out that Ravi was not charged in Clementi's suicide. He also said Ravi has spent 20 months in "exile" since his arrest. And he suggested "hate crime" is a misnomer for what Ravi was convicted of: "I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi."

The judge said he would recommend Ravi not be deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen. Deportation is still a possibility, but a sentence of a year or more would have been more likely to trigger it.

Ravi will not have to report to jail while both sides plan to appeal the 30-day sentence. He will begin his sentence on May 31. He will also serve three years probation, complete 300 hours of community service and attend a counseling program.

Ravi only showed emotion when his mother broke down sobbing after she pleaded for leniency in her son's sentencing.

"Dharun's dreams are shattered and he has been living in hell for the past 20 months," she said through tears, recounting how he has lost more than 20 pounds from an already-thin frame and how he only finds comfort with his little brother and his dog.

After the sentencing, Ravi, his family and his lawyers left court without comment. He is expected to appeal his conviction.

The father of Tyler Clementi told a judge Monday that Ravi 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.

The tear-filled sentencing touched on many of the issues that made the case heart-wrenching and legally complicated: anti-gay bullying, teen suicide, hate-crime laws in the fast-changing Internet age, and the uses and abuses of technology in the hands of young people.

With the Associated Press


Comments [10]

I would like to completely leave to one side both Clementi's suicide and Ravi's attitude about gays.

For the actual crimes Ravi committed and was convicted of -- fifteen felony counts including destroying evidence and invasion of privacy -- he should have received a more time than this.

30 days is a slap on the wrist, and an insult to the legal concept of privacy rights. We should ALL be outraged, regardless of sexual preference or ideas about sexual preference.

May. 22 2012 04:32 PM
capitalRRR from DC

Ravi has been punished for the last 2 years - his life is a living hell, and who knows if he will ever leave this behind him. Probably no. So just an extended prison sentence is sadistic wishful thinking.

May. 22 2012 12:44 PM
The Mommy Psychologist

@alanwright- Mild homophobia? I really hope you're not serious about that comment. And one of his tweets displayed: "I really hope he does suicide." Sorry, I've got to disagree with you on this one.

May. 22 2012 12:35 PM

Mommy Psych:

You can't really set a precedent against online bullying when the evidence of online bullying is as thin as this.

Mild homophobia, cultural misunderstandings, peeping-tom curiosity, homoerotic voyeurism, and ... pretty much none of that amounts to online bullying. The media's anti-bullying fervor in the wake of Tyler Clementi's tragic death was, as usual, misguided.

Real bullying and homophobic attacks exist and continues to exist, both on and offline. They need addressing.

The Dharun Ravi case doesn't do that and shouldn't do that.

May. 22 2012 11:00 AM
brookeLine from brooklyn

my coworkers and I were laughing (in anger) when we read the 30 sentencing - what's the point? Symbolism? Just sentence him to a symbolic 24 hours in prison.

Justice was clearly not served here, the judge is too sympathetic to this young man. Who, in their right mind, watches their roommate secretly in a webcam and has viewing parties for all his friends to see and then tweets the words "yay." such a violation, such a cruel, ruthlessly insensitive and hateful action. Bias was clearly a prime motivator. He wouldn't have watched his hetero roommate.

very very dark day for gay rights, and gay advocacy, and justice at large.
This young man's actions ended the life of an 18 year old and all he got was 30 days in prison.

In 30 days we can all welcome this fine young man into society.

May. 22 2012 10:31 AM
mary from nyc

This is a sad case all around for everyone involved. I believe the judge was correct when he said Ravi was not guilty of hating, but rather showed colossal insensitivity. This really brings focus to what happened. I have seen comments from the gay community who believe this was not a hate crime. I also find it very disturbing that Ravi never apologized, why would he not throw himself at the mercy of the court even if he had to fake it? His life is permanently altered for the worse, though he may be able to rise up from this and make some kind of retribution. For Clementi, sadly, there are no such options, yet I truly believe he had 'other' issues which prompted him to take such drastic action - perhaps, as they say, this was just the straw the broke... I have a sense that Ravi was some how not comfortable w/a gay room mate, and acted out in a way to protect his own sexual identity - I can imagine that he may find returning to India a pleasant alternative to life here after this tragedy.

May. 22 2012 09:55 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

And, just like the word "racism", the definition of "hate" needs clarification.

May. 22 2012 09:32 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Yes, Mommy Psychologist, a precedent needs to be set and just 30 days may not do so. Of course, no one should behave with "complete disregard" for ANYONE. But such things happen to gays disproportionately, and the phenomenon deserves SPECIAL ATTENTION.

I mean, the judge criticized Ravi for NOT APOLOGIZING during the trial, amongst other things, and then just 30 days?

May. 22 2012 08:55 AM
Brenda from New York City

Thirty days is not a long time. But it is jail time and as such will impact this man's life forever. If we really examine his behavior (without considering the fate of his victim) Ravi is not that unusual. Of course that doesn't make it right. But if we were to lock up everyone who behaved with complete disregard to others, and then covered it up to avoid any responsibility, we would be living on a very lonely planet.

May. 22 2012 07:39 AM
The Mommy Psychologist from Los Angeles, CA

I'm disappointed. I was hoping that the judge would use this to set a precedent against online bullying and specifically bullying targeting individuals who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender. It was a chance to say we take this seriously and we will not tolerate hate. Instead, it was a slap on the wrist and stern warning not to do it again. My full thoughts on this here:

May. 22 2012 01:47 AM

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