Ex-student in Rutgers webcam case is spared prison

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May 21, 2012

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The former Rutgers University student convicted of bias intimidation for using a webcam to see his roommate and another man kissing days before the roommate committed suicide is getting a 30-day jail term and then probation.

May 21, 2012

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The former Rutgers University student convicted of bias intimidation for using a webcam to see his roommate and another man kissing days before the roommate committed suicide is getting a 30-day jail term and then probation.

Rutgers University student, Dharun Ravi, arrives at his trial in New Brunswick, N.J. Sentencing for 20-year-old Dharun Ravi is scheduled for Monday May 21, 2012.

A judge sentenced 20-year-old Dharun Ravi (dah-ROON' RAH'-vee) on Monday.

Advocates for Ravi have protested the idea that he could be sent to prison for years for what they see as a misguided decision — but one that may not have been linked to Clementi's suicide.

A jury convicted Ravi in March of all 15 criminal counts he faced.

Indian-born Dharun Ravi, 20, was facing up to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy in a case that exploded into the headlines when Ravi's roommate committed suicide. He also was facing the possibility of deportation, but the judge recommended Monday that he be allowed to stay in the country.

"This individual was not convicted of a hate crime, he was convicted of a bias crime," Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman said, adding that Ravi's crimes were committed out of "colossal insensitivity.”

“I haven’t heard you apologize once," Berman said.

As Clementi's father, brother, and mother addressed the court, holding back tears at times, the image that emerged was of a "vulnerable" Tyler "shaken by the cold, criminal actions of his roommate.”

"Nobody other than Tyler understood how vulnerable he was," Tyler's father Joseph Clementi said. "We are seeking justice and accountability, not revenge."

The family spoke about their long-running ordeal as the media and several court hearings picked apart every detail of Tyler's last days.

"My world came crumbling apart in September 2010,” Tyler's mother Jane Clementi said, adding that Ravi had come to Rutgers with preconceived notions about her son.

"He never really knew Tyler," she said, describing the day she helped her son move into his new room at Rutgers, when Ravi ignored Tyler.

"He could never have known the viper’s nest he was walking into,” Tyler's brother James Clementi told the court, adding that an apology from Ravi would now be empty and spoken without empathy.

"I love my brother and I will mourn for him every day for the rest of my life,” he said.

The court also heard a statement from M.B., a man who was watched via webcam as he kissed Clementi. M.B. described his emotional pain and a combination of embarrassment, emptiness and fear in the wake of Clementi's death and subsequent court proceedings.

"I do wonder if it has ever entered [Ravi's] mind that he has caused me a great deal of pain, and yet he knows nothing about me," M.B.'s statement read.

Ravi did not wish to address the court, but both of his parents spoke, expressing their belief in the American justice system.

In her grief-stricken statement, which was often interrupted by tears and sobs, Dharun's mother Sabitha Ravi told the court his son's life and health have been devastated by the events that occurred over the past 20 months.

She said her son now only eats one meal a day, and has lost more than 25 pounds.

"He was absolutely devastated and broken into pieces,” Sabitha Ravi told the court, as she wiped away tears.

"Dharun’s dreams are shattered and he has been living in hell for the past 20 months," she added, hugging her son after finishing her statement.

Dharun Ravi also cried.

"Contrary to the false propaganda, we are not homophobic family," Dharun's father Ravi Pazhani told the court. "Dharun was not raised to hate gays."

As the hearing began, the judge noted the court had received letters and petitions asking that Ravi be pardoned. Gay activists have also made public pleas for leniency in recent days.

As the defense took the stage, Ravi's attorney asked for the conviction to be dismissed.

“We do believe a miscarriage of justice has occurred,” lawyer Philip Nettl told the court.