Ex-Rutgers Student Sentenced In Webcam Spying Case

fromNJPR

A judge on Monday sentenced former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi with 30 days in jail for using a webcam to spy on his roommate. Tyler Clementi committed suicide days after Ravi saw him kissing another man.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. Now to the sentencing of Dharun Ravi. He's the Rutgers University student who was convicted in a high profile cyber-bullying case on charges including a hate crime.

Ravi could have faced as much as 10 years in jail. Today, he was sentenced to far less: 30 days. He first got into trouble for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate at Rutgers and then tweeted about it. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself soon afterwards.

As we hear from Nancy Solomon of New Jersey Public Radio, today's sentence angered both the defense and the prosecution.

NANCY SOLOMON, BYLINE: For the first time in public today, Dharun Ravi broke down and cried, but it wasn't when the parents of Tyler Clementi spoke with anguish about the loss of their son. It was the sobbing of his own mother begging the judge not to send her son to jail.

SABITHA RAVI: My 20-year-old son already has too much burden on his shoulders to face for the rest of his life.

SOLOMON: In March, Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, lying to the police, tampering with a witness and evidence and bias intimidation, a hate crime that carries a potential 10-year prison sentence. Ravi turned down a plea deal that would have offered probation, insisting that he was just joking around and didn't believe what he did led to Clementi's suicide.

But, in their remarks to the judge, Clementi's parents said the last thing their son did on his computer before he took his life was to go to Ravi's Twitter page. Tyler's brother, James Clementi, told the judge his brother walked into a viper's nest when he became Ravi's roommate.

JAMES CLEMENTI: And just because the situation that he created of his own doing spun further out of control than he would have wanted it to, it does not absolve him of legal responsibility for the laws he broke nor, in my mind, does it absolve him of the moral responsibility for the human being he broke down.

SOLOMON: The Clementis left the courthouse without commenting, as did Ravi and his family. Judge Glenn Berman says he relied on an independent pre-sentencing report that recommended probation for Ravi, but he couldn't let him off without any jail time.

JUDGE GLENN BERMAN: But I heard this jury say guilty 288 times, 24 questions, 12 jurors. That's the multiplication and I haven't heard you apologize once.

SOLOMON: Berman says the fact that Ravi lied to the police, deleted his texts and tried to sway a witness also contributed to his decision. Gay and lesbian organizations are reacting with mixed emotions. The Pride Center of New Jersey says 30 days isn't enough time. A national campus gay rights group says it's more concerned about people learning from this case rather than punishing Dharun Ravi. The prosecution now has 10 days to decide if it wants to accept the 30-day jail sentence or appeal. Until then, Ravi remains free on bail.

For NPR News, I'm Nancy Solomon in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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