Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student who was found guilty of using a webcam to spy on his Rutgers University roommate, Tyler Clementi and sentenced to 30 days in prison, apologized and said he took responsibility for what he had done. His apology came two days before he is to begin serving his 30-day sentence in the Middlesex County jail in New Brunswick, the same town that Rutgers is located in.
In a statement issued through his lawyer, Steven Altman, Ravi said:
“I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on Sept. 19, 2010, and Sept. 21, 2010. My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologize to everyone affected by those choices.”
After spying on Clementi in an intimate encounter with another man, Ravi joked about what he had seen on Twitter and in emails and texts. Clementi spent two days looking at Ravi’s postings on Twitter and threw himself off the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010.
According to the New York Times, Ravi said that “he did not want to say he was sorry during the sentencing because he thought it would sound insincere.”
This Wednesday morning, Ravi appeared in state Superior Court in New Brunswick and said that he is ready to start serving his sentence on Thursday. Ravi could end up only serving 20 days with good behavior. His sentence also requires that he serve 300 hours of community service and be on probation for three years.
Ravi’s lawyers and supporters argued throughout that he was being tried as if he were responsible for Clementi’s suicide.
The courtroom was full but not overflowing to an outer room as it had been during Ravi’s trial. Ravi’s family and supporters were present but not Joseph and Jane Clementi, the parents of Tyler Clementi.
Is Ravi’s Sentence Too Lenient?
Ravi was convicted in March of all 15 criminal counts, including second-degree bias intimidation, hindering his own apprehension and tampering with evidence. He faced up to ten years in state prison on two of the intimidation counts and also deportation as he is an Indian national.
As NJ.com says, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman “departed substantially from state guidelines,” under which Ravi would have had to serve five to seven years in prison for second-degree crimes. Berman found that “extraordinary circumstances” were associated with Ravi’s case. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is appealing the 30-day sentence, saying that it was too lenient; if the prosecutor’s office is successful, Ravi will be given credit for time served.
The 20-year-old Ravi, from Plainsboro in central New Jersey, did not have to start serving his sentence yet due to the appeal. This morning, he stated that “It’s the only way I can get on with my life.” At the 42- minute hearing, Berman explained his sentence, saying that he would “stand on belief” that Ravi’s conduct was “wrong,” but that he did not think his acts were “hate-motivated.”
Ravi’s trial and sentencing have been closed watched as the case involved cyber bullying, bullying and the pressures on gay teens. The case highlighted the dangers of social media which so many use blithely — sometimes not so blithely — without regard for privacy. The legal community has also been closely watching the case because, says NJ.com, “invasion of privacy had never before been tied with bias intimidation, a count typically associated with violence or threats of violence.”
Is Ravi’s apology sincere? Will his crimes trail him for the rest of his life?
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AP Photo/Mel Evans/file