Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, who in March was found guilty of invasion of privacy and hate crimes that resulted in the tragic suicide of his roommate Tyler Clementi, was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail. He will begin his sentence on May 31.
Ravi, 20, did not speak, but inside the packed New Brunswick, N.J., courtroom, his mother, Sabitha Ravi, in tears, pleaded for mercy for her son. “The media was ripping him apart with their misleading facts … He was absolutely devastated and broken into pieces, she said, referring to her son as “kind-hearted and loving,” reports the Newark Star-Ledger.
Ravi cried as his mother spoke.
In a case that received national attention, Ravi was also convicted of bias intimidation, witness tampering, hindering arrest and numerous other charges. All stemmed from his role in using a webcam to observe Clementi”s date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.
Ravi later Tweeted about what he”d witnessed and invited others to watch Clementi with the man, whose name has not been revealed. Prosecutors said Ravi was motivated by a hatred of gays, an allegation Ravi consistently denied.
“I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” Judge Glenn Berman told the court on Monday, according to ABC News. “He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.”
Clementi, 18, jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, after leaving a note on Facebook that read, “Jumping off the gw bridge. Sorry.”
Refused a Plea BargainIn the days leading up to Monday”s sentencing, several prominent gay activists made public pleas for Ravi not to be sent to prison, reports ABC News.
But the man captured on the webcam with Clementi did not agree. His attorney, Richard Pompelio, read his victim-impact statement in court Monday. It said, “While I bear no anger towards Mr. Ravi, after much thought and many sleepless nights, I must say that Mr. Ravi should serve some type of confinement so that he can reflect on the serious harm he has caused. … I do not believe that he has taken responsibility for his conduct, and to this day he seems to blame me for the actions he took.”
Speaking in court as his wife cried, Tyler”s father, Joseph Clementi, also said of Ravi: “He had no call to do what he did. Tyler never did anything to Mr. Ravi to cause him harm.” Ravi”s actions, said Joseph Clementi, were purely as a result of his seeing Tyler “as someone not deserving basic human decency and respect, because my son was different from him [and] because he was gay.”
In her own message, Jane Clementi, Tyler”s mother, called Ravi”s actions “mean-spirited, they are evil and, most important, they are against the law.” She also said, “The court needs to show … this was not right, and it was not acceptable behavior, and it will not be tolerated.”
Before trial, Ravi had rejected a plea deal that would have placed him on probation and required community service – and spared him any time behind bars or the threat of deportation to his native India. He chose instead to face a jury.
Molly Wei, another student who was with Ravi when he was eavesdropping on Clementi (and whose laptop was used to watch the intimate encounter), received leniency for her participation in the events. She was sentenced to perform 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling or training in cyberbullying and alternative lifestyles and work full-time.
Soon after Ravi”s conviction, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also signed into law tougher anti-cyberbullying laws.