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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 21
Rutgers cyber-bully gets light sentence
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Rutgers cyber-bully gets light sentence

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers University student convicted of illegally filming his Gay roommate on a webcam, received a big break Monday when a judge sentenced him to just 30 days behind bars.

He could have received as much as 10 years.

Ravi, who shared the webcam footage with friends, had also faced possible deportation to India. The judge said he would not recommend such action to federal authorities.

The case sparked a national debate over cyber-bullying and Gay-bashing when Ravi's 18-year-old roommate, apparently distraught in part over the gross invasion of his privacy, committed suicide.

Ravi, now 20, was not charged with contributing to Tyler Clementi's death.

Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said Ravi showed 'colossal insensitivity' when he filmed Clementi's encounter with a man in September 2010.

'I heard this jury say 'guilty' 288 times - 24 questions, 12 jurors,' Berman said. 'I haven't heard you apologize once.'

Berman said Ravi would never 'expunge the conduct or the pain you caused.'

The jury found Ravi guilty of invading privacy, on some charges of anti-Gay bias, and of trying to impede investigators by deleting or doctoring text messages and tweets that he'd sent.

His lawyer had argued that Ravi was guilty only of a prank gone wrong when he filmed Clementi and then tweeted friends about what he'd seen, inviting them to watch his webcam video.

Though prosecutors painted Ravi as a mean-spirited bully, Berman noted several times that the young immigrant was not accused of causing Clementi's death.

In a speech before sentencing on Monday, Ravi's mother recalled how they had arrived in the United States with just two suitcases and 'a lot of hopes.' Her son, she said, had been a dedicated student who 'doesn't have any ... or harbor hatred in his heart to anybody.'

'What my son Dharun is going through, there is no word for me to explain. The smile and the bright eyes are gone from his face,' she said.

Addressing Clementi's family, she said, 'It is so sad he chose to end his life early. My heart goes out to his family.'

When the unexpected sentence was passed, Ravi appeared not to react immediately, looking as stunned and near tears as he had throughout the hearing.

In addition to the jail term, Ravi was sentenced to three years' probation, 300 hours of community service, and court costs. He also was ordered to contribute $10,000 to a community organization assisting bias crime victims.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said he plans to appeal the sentence.

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