Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail as part of a probationary sentence today for spying on his college roommate with a webcam and writing about what he saw on Twitter.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman could have given the ex-Rutgers University student up to 10 years for the most serious charges related to the cyber-bullying of his gay roommate Tyler Clementi in September 2010. He was ordered to report to Middlesex County Jail on May 31.
But giving Ravi, 20, the most severe punishment seemed unwarranted even to Middlesex County prosecutors who filed papers saying he didn't deserve the maximum possible sentence, even though he "shows no remorse."
"I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity," Berman said.
Berman ordered Ravi to receive three years of probation, perform 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling and pay a $10,000 fine that will go to an organization providing assistance to victims of bias crimes.
The judge also recommended that Ravi not be deported.
In the proceedings leading up to the judge's sentencing, the prosecution and defense got to make statements in open court. Ravi's mother cried as she read an emotional statement about the toll this ordeal has taken on her son.
"The smile and bright eyes are gone from his face," Sabitha Ravi said, as her son also wept.
Since his arrest, Dharun Ravi has lost more than 20 pounds and rarely socializes with his friends, Sabitha said.
"He was absolutely devastated and broken into pieces."
Statements from the Clementi family did not explicitly state what punishment they thought Ravi deserved. But they repeatedly accused him of being remorseless and unapologetic.
"Tyler had no basis for understanding how a person could perform such a reprehensible act," said Joe Clementi, the victim's father. "He was shaken by the cold criminal actions of his roommate."
Ravi treated Tyler as if he didn't deserve "basic human decency and respect, because he was different," he said.
Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge days after learning Ravi had announced on Twitter that he'd seen him"making out with a dude." Ravi had also invited friends to a "viewing party" to watch Clementi on a second date in their freshman dorm room.
Ravi, wearing a skinny tie knotted around his pale pink dress shirt, did not speak, but his parents read statements on his behalf.
Tyler's parents, Joseph and Jane Clementi, as well as his brother James, read statements before the judge handed down the sentence.
Ravi wasn't charged with causing Clementi's suicide, but prosecutors hit him with a 15-count indictment. In March, a jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts, including invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and bias intimidation, essentially a hate crime.
The facts of the case were rarely in dispute. Ravi's Twitter post, text messages he sent to Clementi, and Clementi's complaints about Ravi sent to school housing officials gave a detailed picture of what happened.
Instead, the trial became a battle over the interpretation of those events. The defense attempted to portray Ravi as a tolerant person who showed bad judgment, but not as someone who was biased against gay men and women.
As the country learned about the events leading up to Clementi's death, Ravi was seen by many as the villain. But public attitudes towards him have apparently mellowed. Some gay rights advocates have spoken up for Ravi, saying that he doesn't deserve a long prison term.
Prosecutors offered Ravi a plea deal in December that would have spared him prison time, but he rejected it.
Federal officials could decide to deport Ravi, who was born in India and raised in New Jersey. However, it was considered unlikely that they'd expel him if the judge sentenced him to less than a year.
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