Ex-student in Rutgers webcam spy case gets 30-day jail sentence

Dharun Ravi convicted of bias intimidation


Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on a roommate who later committed suicide, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail.   

A judge gave 20-year-old Ravi a 30-day jail term and then probation on Monday after calling Ravi's actions "cold, calculated and methodically conceived." 

Ravi was convicted in March of bias intimidation for using a webcam to stream a romantic encounter between his roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, and another man on the Internet. Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010 after learning of the webcam. 

In delivering the sentence, Judge Glenn Berman said Ravi's use of the webcam to spy on Clementi was "colossally insensitive and criminal." 

"I haven’t heard you apologize once," Berman said to Ravi, who decided not to address the judge at his sentencing hearing.

The judge also said he would not recommend Ravi be deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen.

While it didn't request the maximum sentence, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office was disappointed with the 30-day jail term.

"The imposition of this term is insufficient under the sentencing laws of this state, the facts that were determined by a jury, and long-standing appellate precedent. Consequently, this office will appeal the sentence," the prosecutor's office said in a statement released Monday.

 Clementi's parents gave victim impact statements to the court Monday, calling Ravi's behavior "mean-spirited" and "evil." 

"Most important, they are against the law," Clementi's mother, Jane, told the courtroom.  

His father, Joe Clementi, said that Ravi saw his son as not deserving of basic human decency, and that he saw him as below him because he was gay. He said Ravi "still does not get it" and has no remorse.

Ravi's lawyer, meanwhile, told the judge Monday that his client has been "demonized by the gay community" and the case "is being tried and is being treated as if it's a murder case."

The judge said Ravi must report to jail on May 31. He was also ordered to get counseling and to pay $10,000 that would go to a program to help victims of bias crimes.

The case began in September 2010 when Clementi asked Ravi to stay away so he and a guest could have privacy.

Ravi went to a friend's room and turned on his webcam remotely. Jurors at his trial earlier this year heard that he and the friend saw just seconds of Clementi kissing the guest, who was identified in court only by the initials M.B. But they told others about it through instant messages and tweets. And later, Ravi's friend, Molly Wei, showed a few seconds of the live-streamed video to other residents of the dorm. Wei later entered a pre-trial intervention program that can spare her jail or a criminal record if she meets a list of conditions.

When Clementi, an accomplished violinist from Ridgewood, N.J., asked for privacy again two days later, Ravi agreed -- then told friends how they could access his webcam.

But this time, the webcam was not on when M.B. came over. There was testimony both that Clementi unplugged it and that Ravi himself put it to sleep.

The next night, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Jurors learned that he checked Ravi's Twitter feed repeatedly before his suicide.

After the suicide, gay-rights and anti-bullying activists held up Clementi as an example of the horrible consequences of bullying young gays. 

Prosecutors offered Ravi a plea deal that called for no prison time but would have forced him to admit to committing six different crimes. He turned it down.

After a trial that lasted four weeks, Ravi was convicted of all 15 criminal charges he faced, including four counts of the hate crime of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and seven counts accusing him of trying to cover his tracks by tampering with evidence, a witness and other means. The most complicated and serious counts were bias intimidation, two of which are second-degree crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison. During legal arguments out of earshot of the jury, Berman called the law on the issue "muddled."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.