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30 Days In Jail, Three Years Probation In Rutgers Webcam Case

Dharun Ravi in a Brunswick, N.J., court today during his sentencing.
Mel Evans
Dharun Ravi in a Brunswick, N.J., court today during his sentencing.

After emotional appeals from parents on both sides of the case, Dharun Ravi was this afternoon sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation for bias intimidation and invasion of privacy when he used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate at Rutgers University in September 2010.

That roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide shortly after the incident involving the webcam. The tragedy has gotten national attention. As The Associated Press says:

"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 told Ravi that "I haven't heard you apologize once," but also that he did not believe the 20-year-old would ever commit another such crime.

New Jersey's Star-Ledger live blogged today's sentencing hearing. As it reports, Clementi's parents asked for justice. Jane Clementi, Tyler's mother, called Ravi's actions "malicious and evil." James Clementi, the young man's father, said he wonders if Ravi is "even capable of emphathizing with another person."

Ravi Pazhani, the defendant's father, said "we are not a homophobic family." Sabitha Ravi, the mother, said during a tearful address to the court that her son's life has been shattered and that he is "kind-hearted and loving."

Dharun Ravi did not address the court.

As we've said in other posts, for a very detailed look at "The Story Of A Suicide," see this piece from The New Yorker.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. Sentence Is Too Light, LGBT Civil Rights Group Says.

Garden State Equality, a New Jersey group that advocates for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality," has sent reporters a statement that says, in part:

"Moments ago, Judge Berman decided to sentence Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail. We have been public in taking a position of balance: We opposed throwing the book at Dharun Ravi. We have spoken out against giving him the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and against deporting him. That would have been vengeance beyond punishment and beyond sending a message to the rest of society.

"But we have similarly rejected the other extreme that Ravi should have gotten no jail time at all, and today's sentencing is closer to that extreme than the other. This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry. This was not a crime without bias."

Update at 12:55 p.m. ET. Both Sides Object:

Ravi's attorney and the state both ask the judge to "stay" the sentence (put it on hold), and he agrees to do that. The state prosecutor also says she is going to appeal Berman's ruling. Berman says he understands that the state wanted him to send Ravi to a longer term at a state prison, and that he understands the defendant wants to object to any jail sentence.

The judge says it's his understanding that with a stay, the two sides have 10 days to make their case that his sentence was wrong.

Update at 12:50 p.m. ET. Three-year Probation:

Judge Berman just added that Ravi's probation will last for three years. He must also perform 300 hours of community service, get counseling for cyber bullying and on "alternate lifestyles," and pay nearly $12,000 in fines that will go to a variety of state services.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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