Judge hands Rutgers web cam student 30 days for ‘colossal insensitivity’

A New Jersey state judge Monday (May 21) sentenced the Rutgers student convicted of a bias crime in relation to the suicide death of his gay dorm roommate to 30 days in jail, 300 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine.

A jury in New Brunswick in March found Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty of a bias crime against his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, for using a web cam to spy on Clementi’s intimate encounters with another man. The jury also found Ravi guilty of a number of other charges, including invasion of privacy and witness tampering. The charges could have resulted in a sentence of up to 10 years.

But Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Glen Berman said he did not believe Ravi acted out of hate for gay roommate Tyler Clement. Instead, said Berman, he believed Ravi acted out of “colossal insensitivity.”

Berman ordered 20-year-old Ravi to report May 31 to an adult correctional facility in the county, but Ravi’s attorneys said they plan to appeal the conviction and prosecutors say they’ll appeal the sentence.             Berman also sentenced Ravi to three years probation and mandatory counseling programs about cyber bullying and “alternate lifestyles.” Berman did not recommend deportation for Ravi, who is in this country from his native India on a student visa.

Berman chastised Ravi for not apologizing for his actions, but Ravi did not take an opportunity to make a statement to the court.

Clementi’s mother Jane, who was allowed to speak before the sentencing, recalled that Ravi had treated Tyler Clementi rudely when Clementi arrived at his dorm room on the first day of school.

“He never even paused to acknowledge that Tyler was in the room,” said Jane Clementi, according to a video of Monday’s proceedings posted by ABC News. “He never stopped what he was doing, no greeting, no smile, no recognition, no nothing.” Tyler’s father thanked the court for refusing Ravi’s defense attorney’s “indecent effort” to gain access to Tyler’s computer and personal writings.

Ravi’s mother Sabitha spoke, too, tearfully explaining how her son was “devastated” by the media “ripping him apart” with “misleading facts” and “wrongful statements.” And his father, Ravi Pazhani, assured the judge that his was “not a homophobic family.”

“Dahrun was not raised to hate gays,” said Pazhani. The belief of many that his son acted out of bias against gays, he said, “is all in the imagination of people who want to further their agenda at any cost….”             Pazhani contended his son did apologize to Tyler, through an email, but “no one has ever accepted the apology.” He did not mention that police believe Tyler had already jumped off the George Washington Bridge minutes before Ravi sent his email apology.

Pazhani also said his family “tried to reach” Tyler’s family “but the doors were shut on us.”

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that Dharun Ravi’s attorney, Steve Altman, blamed the gay community for having “demonized” Ravi.

Judge Berman said the $10,000 fine would be directed into a state-sanctioned program to assist victims of bias crime.

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