May 22, 2012

Former Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Sentenced To 30 Days

 In New Brunswick New Jersey yesterday, former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, 20, was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail, after he had been found guilty of intimidating and invading the privacy of his college roommate, Tyler Clementi.

Ravi used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate during an intimate sexual encounter. Just a few days later, Tyler jumped from the George Washington Bridge.

During a courtroom sentencing hearing that lasted for more than four hours, Tyler’s parents were given an opportunity to address the court. In a lengthy statement Jane Clementi said “What I want is justice.”

“He never really knew Tyler. All he found out was that Tyler was gay,” she said.

Joseph Clementi said that Tyler “was very vulnerable and he was shaken by the cold criminal actions of his roommate.”

“Seeing my wife and my other children in such a state and realizing there was nothing I could do as a husband or a parent to ease their pain was in itself painful.”

Dharun Ravi’s mother Sabitha Ravi also addressed the court. “The media was ripping him apart with their misleading facts and wrongful statements of the prominent people, he was absolutely devastated and broken into pieces.” She said that Dharun Ravi “doesn’t have any hatred in his heart towards anybody.”

“Dharun’s dreams are shattered and he has been living in hell for the past 20 months. As a mother, I feel Dharun has really suffered enough,” she said.

Dharun Ravi was given an opportunity to address the court, prior to his sentencing, and he opted not to speak. According to Mark Di Ionno, a columnist with the Newark Star Ledger:

On Friday night, just a weekend away from his sentencing date, Dharun Ravi explained why he wasn’t going to make a public apology for what he did to Tyler Clementi.

He says that doesn’t mean he isn’t sorry for what happened to Clementi, but he had his reasons for not speaking.

"Anything I say now would sound rehearsed and empty, and nothing I say is going to make people hate me any less," he said. "Whatever I say will never change the Clementis' mind about me, or how people see me."
"When politicians give public apologies, to me, it always sounds so insincere and false," he said. "No matter what I say, people will take it that way."

"The public doesn’t know the real me, and I don’t think they care," he said. "People are going to believe what they want to believe. I can’t change that."

The Judge was not pleased that the defendant chose not to address  the court. Newark Star Ledger reporters Megan DeMarco and Ted Sherman wrote:

Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, before imposing sentence, sternly addressed Ravi after the young man from Plainsboro unexpectedly chose not to address the court.

“I heard this jury say guilty 288 times, and I haven’t heard you apologize once,” said Berman.

Still, he found that Ravi acted not out of hate, but of “colossal insensitivity.”

“This individual was not convicted of a hate crime. He was convicted of a bias crime and there's a difference. I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi. He had no reason to. But I do believe that he acted out of colossal insensitivity,” said the judge during the televised hearing.

The judge imposed a sentence of 30 days, along with three years probation. Ravi was also given 300 hours of community service and told to contribute $10,000 to a state licensed community based organization dedicated to assisting victims of bias crimes.

In my opinion the Judge made the right decision. Dharun Ravi did not need a lengthy prison sentence. Hopefully this young man will be able to do his stint in the county jail, and then put his life back together.

There are no winners in this case. While our nation’s consciousness was raised to see what can happen when someone is cyber-bullied, we are still lacking concrete solutions to monitor and solve the problem.



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