He had faced up to ten years in prison for the cyberbullying conviction that led his Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide. Instead, Dharun Ravi will be going to jail for a month, and it seems that hardly anyone is pleased with the sentence.
It came exactly twenty months to the day that Dharun Ravi let his webcam stream live -- for the second time in a three day period-- a gay, romantic encounter between his freshman year roomate Tyler Clementi and a male friend of Clementi's, who'd been known in court simply by the initials M.B.
M.B. had testified against Ravi at trial, and submitted a statement read in court on Monday explaining how strongly affected he was by the bias intimidation and invasion of privacy that Dharun Ravi had been convicted of last month. Despite that, however, the judge said in court that M.B. had requested that Ravi not be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The families of the people most affected by Ravi cyberbullying Tyler Clementi and then lying to investigators about it, as well as being affected by Clementi's subsequent jump off the George Washington Bridge, had hardly ever been heard from publicly, until they read statements in court.
"[Ravi] did it in a cold calculating manner," Clementi's father, Joe, said. "And then he tried to cover it up."
His son, James Clementi, said about his brother, "He knew that not one of the people aware of [the streaming of the encounters] spoke out in his support or approached him to offer any kindness. I cannot imagine the level of rejection, isolation and disdain he must have felt from all of his peers."
"What I want is justice," Tyler Clementi's mother, Jane, told the judge, noting that this was a high-profile case that could send a strong message to others and could set a precedent for future bias cases.
"The court needs to show the residents of New Jersey, and for that matter, the entire country," she said, "this was not right, and is not acceptable behavior."
Ravi's parents spoke as well, asking that the 20 year-old born in India but raised in New Jersey, not be deported, as is often the case when foreign-born defendants are convicted. Also, as Dharun Ravi wiped away tears, and his mother, Sabitha Ravi, wept, she told the court that her son has been misunderstood by the public since the crime was first publicized in the fall of 2010.
"He was absolutely devastated and broken into pieces," she said. "The media mischaracterized the facts, and misconceptions were formed, she told a courtroom that had standing room only. An adjacent courtroom with a large screen television was used for overflow crowds, and was also filled to capacity.
"He does not have any hatred in his heart toward anybody," added Sabitha Ravi about her son.
After she finished, the wet-faced mother hugged her son, and his attorney made a terse statement about the person from whom most people wanted to hear at sentencing, and who was barely heard from in his own trial.
"He doesn't wish to address you," the lawyer told the judge, putting to rest any chance of hearing from the man found guilty of 15 counts of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.
So the judge began a long statement of criticism of Dharun Ravi, including dressing him down for not rising to his feet when being addressed by the bench.
Ravi's attorney said it was his fault, but Judge Berman continued to address Ravi. "You lied to the roommate who placed his trust in you without any conditions, and you violated it," he said to an expressionless Ravi.
"I don't believe he hated Tyler Clementi," Judge Berman continued, "He had no reason to. But I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity."
After about five minutes of analyzing Ravi's crimes, the judge handed down a sentence.
"Mr. Ravi will report on May 31 for a probationary sentence of a 30-day jail term," Judge Berman announced. He also sentenced Ravi to three years probation and payments over $10,000 to organizations that deal with bias crime issues.
Steven Goldstein, head of the anti-bias group New Jersey equality, said in a statement after the ruling,that while his organization had not favored either the full prison sentence of 10 years for Ravi, or no time behind bars at all, "Today's sentencing is closer to that [latter] extreme than the other. This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry."
Clementi's parents had indicated that they would speak about the sentence at a newsconference afterward. After the judge handed down his ruling, the family chose not to speak. Neither Ravi nor his parents spoke, either.
The ten days between his sentencing and date of reporting to jail allow Ravi to appeal his sentence, which he is expected to do, since he still maintains he should not be incarcerated at all. Prosecutors also intend to appeal, seeking more severe sentence in the case.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun