May 23, 2012 11:28 AM EDT
Rutgers Webcam-Spying Defendant Is Sentenced to 30-Day Jail Term
A judge sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail on Monday for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with a man, reported The New York Times.
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The punishment angered prosecutors and spurred debate over acquiring laws that fight against hate crimes, especially antigay bias.
Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010 when he learned Ravi spied on him in their room at Rutgers University.
Prosecutors vowed to appeal, calling into question the jurors' leniency.
"I heard this jury say guilty 288 times," Judge Glenn Berman told Ravi in Superior Court in Middlesex County, reported The Times. "And I haven't heard you apologize once."
Judge Berman told the courtroom that he doesn't believe Ravi hated Clementi, but he "acted out of colossal insensitivity," reported The Times.
Although Ravi, 20, was not charged with causing Clementi's death; however, the suicide weighed heavily over the trial.
Judge Berman said he wanted to impose a sentence that was "constructive" and would provide some measure of closure for Clementi's family.
The Times reported that the judge imposed jail time due to witness and evidence tampering by Ravi and for lying to police. Also, the judge did not explicitly say why he deviated from a maximum sentence, but he said he believed the State Legislature intends that prison time be associated to crimes of violence. In this case, there had been none.
Judge Berman also sentenced Ravi to 300 hours of community service, geared toward counseling about cyberbullying, according to The Times and approximately $11,000 in fees. Most of the money will go towards helping victims of bias crimes.
Clementi, 18 years old at the time, during his third week of his freshman year at Rutgers, asked Ravi if he could have the room they shared for the evening so he could be alone with a man, whom he met on Web site for gay men.
That's when Ravi decided he would set up a webcam to spy on the men and then went to a friend's room to watch. He sent out Twitter messages, which described, in detail, the homosexual contact between the two men.
According to a long trail of electronic evidence, Clementi checked Ravi's Twitter feed 38 times before jumping to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
Gay rights advocates hailed the jury's verdict as a bold strike against bias.
"We have opposed throwing the book at Dharun Ravi," said Steven Goldstein, the chairman of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey gay rights group in a statement. "But we have similarly rejected the other extreme, that Ravi should have gotten no jail time at all."
Source: The New York Times