Ravi Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail, Probation in Rutgers Spycam Case
Judge could have sentenced Plainsboro resident to 10 years in prison
The 20-year-old former Rutgers student convicted of spying on his gay roommate's sexual encounters was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail and three years of probation by a Middlesex County judge.
Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, was convicted by a jury in March of 15 charges related to webcam spying of Ridgewood's Tyler Clementi, a shy musician who committed suicide days after a series of spying incidents in 2010 at the state university.
Judge Glenn Berman on Monday morning could have sentenced Ravi to 10 years in prison but opted for a far lighter punishment.
Conceding attorneys on both sides will likely be disappointed in the sentencing issued, Berman said Ravi's actions were "cold and calculating" and "colossally insensitive."
Still, Berman said, his interpretation of the law was that the bias intimidation charges were designed for violent crimes and not what transpired at the Rutgers dorm room in the fall 2010.
"I'm not condoning or defending the defendant's actions, but I believe that's what the legislation had in mind when they adopted this statute," he said.
Berman — who ruled that Ravi would serve 300 hours of community service and also pay about $11,000 in probationary fees — took umbrage with Ravi having never apologized for his actions.
"M.B. did nothing wrong whatsoever," Berman said, referring to the second victim, Clementi's lover. "It was no one's business. Tyler Clementi did nothing wrong but to mistakenly trust his roommate to respect his privacy."
The prosecution argued the charges — 15 in total, including seven cover-up convictions — carried the presumption of incarceration.
The family members on both sides, through streams of tears, pleaded for what they believed was an appropriate punishment.
M.B. said the emotional pain only intensified with the drawn-out, public trial and constant media attention.
"I was not opposed to a plea bargain," the victim said through his attorney. Ravi's defense team initially turned down a plea offer that would have kept him out of jail.
"I did not have malice," M.B. continued. "I didn't want him to have to go to prison. I just wanted him to acknowledge that he had done wrong and taken responsibility for his conduct."
"He did it without a thought or any consideration of how it would affect Tyler and his friend," read Joseph Clementi, Tyler's father. "He did it in a cold and calculating manner and tried to cover it up."
The mother of Clementi, Jane, struggled to hold back the tears. She chastised Ravi for what she said was a judgment of her son from the very beginning, because he was gay.
"We need to make sure everyone knows these actions are wrong," she said to Berman. "They are mean-spirited, they are evil and most importantly, they are against the law."
The family of Ravi, who along with supporters marched on Trenton claiming their son didn't receive a fair trial, said Monday their son was never raised with hate.
"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.
Berman will write a letter to federal authorities asking they not deport Ravi to his native India.
"Down the road you can expunge this judgement," Berman said. "You cannot expunge the conduct or the pain you caused."
Prosecutors plan on appealing the sentence. The state has 10 days to appeal.
Berman also terminated the pre-trial intervention program of Molly Wei, who struck a plea deal to testify against her former friend Ravi.