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article imageEx-Rutgers webcam-spying student gets 30-day jail term

By Yukio Strachan     May 23, 2012 in Crime
A judge sentenced former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail Monday for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having an intimate encounter with a man.
"You lied to your roommate who placed his trust in you without any conditions, and you violated it," Judge Glenn Berman of New Jersey State Superior Court, told Ravi, according to the New York Times.
“I heard this jury say guilty 288 times — 24 questions, 12 jurors, that’s the multiplication,” the judge said recalling the questionnaire jurors filled out in arriving at the verdict. “And I haven’t heard you apologize once.”
His roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death in September 2010, days after Ravi, using a webcam in their dorm room, spied on Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man — and invited other students to watch — at Rutgers University.
It was a case that at once galvanized concern about suicide among gay teenagers but also prompted debate about the use of laws against hate crimes,” Kate Zernike writes for The New York Times from New Brunswick, N.J.
A former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate was sentenced Monday to just 30 days in jail — a punishment that disappointed some activists but came as a relief to others who feared he would be made a scapegoat for his fellow freshman's suicide.
Ravi, 20, had faced up to 10 years in prison after a jury convicted him of all 15 counts against him, which included bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and tampering with a witness and evidence.
Instead, the Associated Press said, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman gave Ravi a month in jail, placed him on three years' probation and ordered him to get counseling and pay $10,000 toward a program to help victims of hate crimes.
"Our society has every right to expect zero tolerance for intolerance," the judge said.
Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said he will appeal the sentence, calling it insufficient.
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 afterward tweeted and texted what he saw to friends.
"I saw him making out with a dude. Yay," Ravi boasted.
When Clementi asked for privacy again two days later, Ravi agreed, then told friends how to access his webcam in an attempt to humiliate Clementi, but later deleted the text messages, they said.
The next night, Clementi — who learned he had been spied on — committed suicide at age 18, leaving behind a final Facebook update: "jumping off the gw bridge, sorry."
Ravi's mother, Sabitha Ravi, said in court that her son "doesn't have any hatred in his heart toward anybody."
The judge agreed. “I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” the judge told a tear-filled courtroom. “I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.”
But Clementi's father, Joe Clementi, told the judge that Ravi deserved to be punished, saying the young man saw his son as undeserving of basic human decency. The elder Clementi said Ravi "still does not get it" and has no remorse.
The prosecutor had made the same argument, CNET news reports, noting that the day after Clementi's suicide, Ravi texted a friend about wanting to return to Rutgers: "How can I convince my mom to let me go back Friday night and get drunk."
More about Dharun ravi, Tyler clementi, Rutgers University, Judge Glenn Berman, Gay bullying
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