The 20-year-old former Rutgers University student convicted of a bias crime against his roommate who soon after committed suicide was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a New Jersey judge on Monday.
Dharun Ravi had been found guilty of charges including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence after the death of Tyler Clementi just three weeks into their first semester of college. The 18-year-old freshman jumped off of New York City‘s George Washington Bridge after realizing Ravi had set up a video camera to record a sexual encounter between himself and another man, who was never identified during the trial.
Ravi faced a possible sentence as long as 10 years in prison after the high profile trial, but Middlesex County (N.J.) Judge Glenn Berman, believing that the counts “do not warrant a prison term” opted to go along with sentencing guidelines and state legislative statutes in handing down his ruling.
“This individual was not convicted of a hate crime. He was convicted of a bias crime and there’s a difference. I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi. He had no reason to. But I do believe that he acted out of colossal insensitivity,” said Berman.
Berman did scold Ravi while addressing him, suggesting that he had shown little remorse to Clementi’s family for what happened to their son.
“I heard this jury say guilty 288 times: 24 questions, 12 jurors, that’s the multiplication,” Berman said. “And I haven’t heard you apologize once.
“Down the road you can expunge this judgement. You cannot expunge the conduct or the pain you caused.”
The death of Clementi sparked a nationwide outcry against bullying, particularly over the Internet and social media. Prosecutors, insisting that Ravi was trying to intimidate Clementi due to his sexuality, charged that Ravi set up a webcam in their dorm room to video tape the encounter, then tried to do it again two days later and afterward tweeted and texted what he saw to friends. He invited them to watch a second time in an attempt to humiliate Clementi, but later deleted the text messages, they said. Three days after the webcam incident, Clementi killed himself.
After a four-week criminal trial, Ravi was convicted of most of the counts against him. He was not accused of actually causing Clementi’s death.
Both Ravi’s and Clementi’s parents gave emotional addresses to the court, with both mothers breaking down in tears over the circumstances of the case, the death of one son and the possible incarceration of another. Ravi himself did not address the courtroom or the judge. Both Clementi’s family and Ravi’s remained silent while Berman handed down his judgment.
In addition to his sentence, Ravi will be on probation for thee years, must serve 300 hours of community service and attend a cyberbullying counseling program, and has to pay a $10,000 recessment to the New Jersey probation department, which will go toward programs that help people who are victims of bias crimes.
Ravi also faced deportation to his native India, from which he immigrated with his parents when he was four, but Berman recommended against it.
Both prosecutors and the defense have said they would appeal and Berman granted a stay of the sentence for 10 days upon the prosecution’s request.