A New Jersey judge on Monday sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in prison for his role in spying on his roommate, which a jury found to be motivated by bias.
Ravi will report to the Middlesex County prison May 31 to begin his sentence.
Reportedly, he’ll only spend 20 days in the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center, as state regulations automatically truncate a 30-day sentence with 10 days for good behavior.
Prosecutors have said they will appeal and have until the end of the month to do so.
In September 2010 Ravi used a webcam to spy on Clementi, who was having a sexual encounter with another man in their shared dorm room. Ravi invited others to watch and later attempted to spy again. A few days later, Clementi committed suicide.
Judge Glenn Berman also ordered Ravi to serve three years of probation, complete 300 community-service hours, pay $10,000 in probation fees and participate in diversity and antibullying training.
The sentencing fell vastly outside of the guidelines, as he was facing up to 10 years in prison. As Ravi is now a convicted felon, immigration officials could choose to deport him to his native India, but Berman said he would recommend that deportation not take place.
Garden State Equality executive director Steven Goldstein expressed disappointment in the trial’s outcome.
“We have been public in taking a position of balance: We opposed throwing the book at Dharun Ravi,” Goldstein said. “We have spoken out against giving him the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and against deporting him. That would have been vengeance beyond punishment and beyond sending a message to the rest of society. But we have similarly rejected the other extreme that Ravi should have gotten no jail time at all, and today’s sentencing is closer to that extreme than the other. This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry. This was not a crime without bias.”
Ravi was reserved when the sentence was delivered, although his mother broke down.
Prior to the ruling, the judge tore into Ravi for his apparent lack of remorse.
“I heard this jury say guilty 288 times — 24 questions and 12 jurors, that’s the multiplication. And I haven’t heard you apologize once,” Berman said. “The letter of ‘apology’ you gave to the pre-sentencing people, I’ll call it unimpressive.”
Ravi’s attitude was also referenced by the Clementi family, who provided in-court victim impact statements before the sentencing.
“I cannot imagine how a person who illegally webcammed his roommate in his most intimate moments and then texted and tweeted people about it could then come back in the room and look that person in the eye,” said Clementi’s father, Joseph. “He doesn’t get it. He has no remorse and was genuinely surprised the jury found him guilty of any charges. When asked why he attempted to destroy evidence, he said he was trying to fix a problem. That is chilling.”
Clementi’s brother James, who is also gay, said he no longer wants an apology from Ravi.
“There was a time when an apology would have meant something to me but it’s now clear that anything of the sort would be empty, rehearsed words spoken without empathy,” he said. “His total lack of compassion and shifting of blame for his own actions seeps through every word he speaks about his crimes.”
James Clementi went on to express the frustrations he has struggled with as the media shone a spotlight on his family and as the court case unfolded.
“I watched as Dharun slept through court as though this wasn’t something worth staying awake for. I listened while he and his attorneys laughed together in court. Through it all, I listened and bit my tongue,” he said. “But the truth is that from the moment the computer randomly selected Tyler and Dharun to live together, my brother’s fate was sealed.”
In her testimony, Clementi’s mother Jane described the guilt she dealt with for not recognizing sooner that Clementi would have problems with his roommate.
She said Ravi appeared cold toward her son from the day she and her husband moved Clementi into the dorm.
“We entered and said hello and the only response we got was from his mother and then later his father. He sat at his computer and ignored Tyler and us, didn’t acknowledge Tyler was in the room, didn’t stop what he was doing, no greeting, no smile, no recognition. He didn’t even look up,” she said. “He came with preconceived ideas about Tyler and never had an intention of befriending him or being a considerate roommate.”
In his final remarks, Ravi’s defense attorney Steven Altman said his client was “demonized” by the LGBT community, who are blaming him for Clementi’s suicide, while lead prosecutor Julia McClure said Ravi committed “numerous criminal acts,” for which he showed no remorse.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.