- Views & Opinions
Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail today for using a webcam to spy on Tyler Clementi, Ravi’s gay roommate who committed suicide in September 2010.
Ravi activated a dorm-room Webcam to spy on Clementi in a romantic encounter with another man and encouraged others to spy, via the Web, on his roommate. Soon after, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
After a four-week trial in New Jersey, Ravi was convicted in March of 15 criminal charges including invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and bias intimidation.
When he entered the courtroom this morning, he faced up to 10 years in prison and deportation to India, where he was born and remains a citizen, though he has lived most of his life in New Jersey.
The case has turned both Clementi and Ravi, who for just three weeks shared a Rutgers University dorm room they were randomly assigned, into widely known symbols. Clementi is seen as an example of what can happen to young gays who are too often bullied even as acceptance of gays has increased. Ravi has been portrayed as a young man victimized by overzealous prosecutors who reacted to a tragedy by piling on charges.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman sentenced Ravi after hearing emotional statements from Clementi’s family and friends and Ravi’s family and friends.
Ravi’s mother, through tears, blamed the media for misconstruing the facts and “ripping” apart her son, who cannot safely go out in public. After her statement, she hugged her son, who declined to address the court.
Clementi’s mother, through tears, said, “The devastation of the loss of my son was more than I could bear… I felt like a piece of me died.”
The judge, after hearing the statements, stressed the guilty verdicts from the jury and the lack of an apology from Ravi. He said Ravi’s pre-sentencing letter was unimpressive and inadequate and that, while he might some day clear his record, Ravi could never expunge the pain and harm he caused.
He said the sentence he imposed was balanced, constructive and would hopefully provide “a measure of closure” and then announced that Ravi would serve 30 days in jail, plus probation.
The judge also recommended that Ravi not be deported, but observed the decision rests with the federal government.
Ravi’s lawyers have said there will be an appeal.
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