Dharun Ravi is facing 30 days in jail for using a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi. The ex-Rutgers University student was convicted in March of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, and on Monday afternoon (May 21), a New Jersey State Superior Court judge handed down the month-long sentence.
Ravi not only spied repeatedly on Clementi in their Rutgers residence, but he also invited fellow students and followers to watch a broadcast of the freshman while he was intimate with a male companion. Days later, on September 22, 2010, Clementi jumped to his death from New York City's George Washington Bridge.
Ravi was found guilty of all 15 counts against him, including hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence. In addition to jail time, the 20-year-old received three years' probation and 300 hours of community service. He's required to get counseling about cyberbullying and alternate lifestyles and will pay a $10,000 probation fee, which will be used to help victims of bias crimes.
Still, the sentence is relatively light considering Ravi faced up to 10 years in prison. The judge did, however, admonish Ravi for his actions: "You lied to your roommate who placed his trust in you without any conditions, and you violated it. I haven't heard you apologize once," Judge Glenn Berman said while handing down the sentence. "Down the road, you can expunge this judgment. You cannot expunge the conduct or the pain you caused."
Clementi's suicide came amid a series of suicides attributed to LGBT bullying that sparked a nationwide debate about the role of the Internet and social media in bullying and prompted discussion of how to legislate Internet-based hate crimes. Prosecutors claimed that Ravi sought to intimidate Clementi because of his sexuality, setting up a webcam in their dorm room to videotape an intimate encounter between Clementi and a man whose identity was kept anonymous during the trial. Ravi tried to do it again two days later, inviting friends to watch the encounter from another location. Three days after the webcam incident, after he learned the details of what Ravi had done, Clementi killed himself.
Although Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi's death, details of the suicide factored into the trial and Clementi's mother, father and brother all read statements during the sentencing on Monday.
"I cannot imagine the level of rejection, isolation and disdain he must have felt from his peers," said Tyler's brother James Clementi. "Dharun never bothered to care about the harm he was doing to my brother's heart and mind. My family has never heard an apology, an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing." James, who is also gay, penned a moving tribute to his brother for Out magazine earlier this year.
Jane Clementi, Tyler's mother, also chastised the students who participated in the spying as observers and those who knew about it from reading Ravi's Twitter feed, asking, "Why didn't any one of them speak up and try to stop it?"
Attorneys for Ravi are expected to appeal the sentence.
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