Dharun Ravi Gets 30-Day Jail Sentence, Plus Probation

Today a New Jersey judge sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail, plus three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and a $10,000 "assessment," for the "colossal insensitivity" he showed by using a webcam to spy on his Rutgers University roommate, Tyler Clementi, while the latter was making out with another man, and for seeking to conceal his actions from police. Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman said he would recommend that Ravi, a legal resident who came to the U.S. when he was 5, not be deported (although that's not his call). Since Ravi was convicted of invading Clementi's privacy with the intent of intimidating him because of his sexual orientation, he faced a possible sentence of five to 10 years, with a presumption of a prison term except when it would result in a "serious injustice." Berman concluded that the mitigating factors—including Ravi's clean record, the unlikelihood that he will commit another offense, and his failure to anticipate the emotional impact of his actions—outweighed the aggravating factors. He emphasized that Ravi was not charged with complicity in Clementi's suicide, which occurred a few days after the spying incident.

More to come.

Previous coverage of the case here.

Addendum: Although Berman noted that "the defendant is not charged with causing or contributing to Tyler's death," it is unlikely that Ravi would have been charged at all, let alone with a crime punishable by 10 years in prison, if Clementi had not jumped off the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010. Addressing the court before sentencing, the defendant's father and his lawyer, Steven Altman, both argued that Ravi was being punished for driving Clementi to kill himself, and they complained that Berman had not allowed the admission of evidence (presumably including Clementi's suicide note) that would have suggested a different motivation. The influence of Clementi's suicide was inescapable as his heartbroken mother and brother addressed the court, saying Ravi (who chose not to speak before sentencing) should serve time behind bars because he had not shown sufficient remorse for his "cruel" and "evil" actions. But the most emotional testimony came from Ravi's mother, who repeatedly broke into tears at the prospect that her son would be treated the way the Clementis demanded. She emphasized the toll that Ravi's vilification had taken, saying, "Dharun's dreams are shattered, and he has been living in hell the last 20 months." Ravi's father noted that the prosecution's own witnesses had testified that "he never had any hatred or said anything derogatory against gays," and he pleaded with the judge not to impose a sentence that would trigger deportation. "This is my country and my home," he said. "Don't force us to go back."

While the prosecutor, Julia McLure, presented a crisp summary of her case, emphasizing Ravi's "malicious" behavior in spying on and tweeting about his roommate, Altman seemed to be flailing, saying "it's not impossible" that Ravi would avoid prison, but "I'm climbing a mountain." He appeared distracted by the animosity he believes Clementi's parents feel toward him, repeatedly saying that he was only doing his job in representing Ravi. "We might have made some mistakes," he said defensively, "but we tried to keep it within the rules." Altman's speculation about the Clementis' feelings later drew a rebuke from the judge, who said they had conducted themselves calmly and with dignity. Altman did manage to note that Ravi had sent a text-message apology to Clementi and that he had tried to communicate with Clementi's parents but was rebuffed.

Altman's uneasiness (he said he was "1,000 times" more nervous that he had ever been before a client's sentencing) was especially puzzling given that Ravi's presentence report recommended probation in light of his immaturity, sheltered upbringing, and lack of foresight as an 18-year-old college freshman. It called him "an excellent candidate for community-based supervision." Berman evidently took the report to heart, repeatedly calling it a "neutral" evaluation and agreeing with most of its conclusions. Initially he seemed inclined to punish Ravi more severely. "I haven't heard you apologize once," Berman told him, calling the letter he wrote for the presentence report "unimpressive." Berman seemed most indignant about Ravi's "cold" and "calculated" attempts to cover up his spying and gossiping, which included deleting tweets and trying to influence what a witness told police. But contrary to what you might expect in a "bias crime" case, Berman did not describe Ravi as a bigot, perhaps because there is little evidence suggesting he is. "This individual was not convicted of a hate crime," the judge said. "He was convicted of a bias crime."

At the same time, Berman expressed doubt that the state legislature had this sort of case in mind when it enacted the bias crime statute, which heretofore has been used to prosecute people who commit or threaten violence. He also disagreed with the state's description of Ravi's underlying invasion-of-privacy offenses, which contrary to the charges did not involve viewing sexual penetration or genitalia. He worked hard to arrive at the 30-day jail sentence despite the presumptive prison term, employing a series of maneuvers that no doubt will be challenged by the prosecution. In the end, except for the month in jail, the sentence is similar to what would have happened if Ravi had accepted the plea deal offered by prosecutors (who, like Berman, said they would try to prevent his deportation). This is a pretty good outcome for Ravi, if you ignore all the reasons why he should not have been prosecuted or convicted on these charges to begin with.

Earlier this month I explained how Ravi's "wildly inappropriate" behavior (as Clementi called it) became a felony subject to a 10-year prison sentence. Today's New York Times notes that various gay commentators urged leniency for Ravi.

Addendum II: Judging from some of the comments, there is still confusion about a point that Altman raised in his remarks before sentencing: Contrary to a popular misconception, Ravi did not watch Clementi having sex (he saw just a few seconds of kissing), did not record what he saw, and did not post it online. Nor did he "out" Clementi, who was not trying to conceal his sexual orientation. For more on these points, see Ian Parker's thorough report in The New Yorker.

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  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    that sentence is fucking GAY

  • WTF||

    Your colossal insensitivity is just begging for a prison sentence.

  • Eric Holder||

    A team of agents in Mao suits and truncheons has been dispatched to assist Comrade Almanian in his self-criticism.

  • John||

    Berman concluded that the mitigating factors—including Ravi's clean record, the unlikelihood that he will commit another offense, and his failure to anticipate that his actions would cause serious harm—outweighed the aggravating factors. He emphasized that Ravi was not charged with complicity in Clementi's suicide, which occurred a few days after the spying incident.

    That makes no sense. If he is not being punished for complicity in Clemtnti's suicide, then why is his failure to "anticipate serious harm" relevant?

    The judge should have rendered a non-guilty verdict and thrown this monstrosity out of court.

  • WTF||

    30 days in jail, plus three years of probation and a $10,000 "assessment," for the "colossal insensistivity" he showed

    "COLOSSAL INSENSITIVITY" John! Clearly he's a monster.

  • Brutus||

    Is that Insensitivity in the First or Second Degree?

  • tarran||

    The judge should have rendered a non-guilty verdict and thrown this monstrosity out of court.

    I remember when that happened here in MA where a British au pere was being prosecuted for murdering the baby she was caring for.

    The jury returned a guilty verdict, and the judge overturned it basically saying that the facts as presented by the prosecution did not meet the criteria for a guilty verdict.

    The gnashing of teeth by the Boston Brahmins was awesome.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Not the best outcome to this case, but it could have turned out a lot worse.

    Maybe the courts just didn't want to set a precedent of harsh punishments for spying on people. There are law enforcement agencies to think of, after all.

  • WTF||

    Nah - since when are the law enforcement agencies subject to the same laws as the little people?

  • JW||

    Not the best outcome to this case, but it could have turned out a lot worse.

    Yep. Ravi, if he's not, should be breathing a massive sigh of relief. I suspect that he is.

    Of course, this entire case shouldn't have even reached this point, but with the judicial system as corrupted as it is by the prevailing collectivist notions, this is probably the best possible outcome he could have expected.

  • Brett L||

    What? He's now a convicted felon. They've ruined his life. Yeah, great that he gets to do 30 days in jail and explain to every prospective employer for the rest of his life why he's a felon.

  • JW||

    I didn't say that it was a good thing, just the best he could realistically hope for.

    To be fair, he did majorly screw up, just not nearly enough to warrant 10 years in the pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

  • Brett L||

    Or a felony conviction. Put it this way, since he wasn't complicit in the suicide, would he have been convicted of a felony if the other party hadn't committed suicide? No.

  • ||

    The retributionist in me would not mind seeing this dope forced to fellate a donkey and have it mass distributed on a Pr0nToob. But this does not rise to the level of a felony, and arguably not even a misdemeanor, IMO. IANAL so I don't know what actually applies here statute wise.

  • JW||

    I agree with all of this, but that train left the station a long time ago, once the torches and pitchforks showed up.

  • Hell's Librarian||

    That's pretty much my feelings on it. He strikes me as the worst sort of douchebag and I am glad I don't know him. But his actions are not felonious, IMO. I wouldn't have cried too hard if he had been accused of a misdemeanor or two, however. (Inasmuch as he arguably did obstruct justice and electronically surveil his roommate without his consent, which seems to be illegal in NJ.)

  • Seamus||

    The worst sort? I'm guessing that you don't have to deal with very many douchebags, do you? I run across worse just about driving to work--I won't say every day, but probably every week.

  • Seamus||

    Not to mention that he's still subject to deportation. Sure, the prosecutors and the judge say that they'll try to prevent deportation, but they're not the people who make the decision. The decision will be made by the Obama administration. Do you really think they want to come across as soft-on-bias-crime during this election year. (Not to mention how they can tell Republicans: "See, you're always blaming us for not doing more to deport undesirable aliens. Well, now we're doing what you want us to.")

  • Cyto||

    So.... are the PC police satisfied that they have their pound of flesh, or are they going to riot in the streets over the injustice?

  • John||

    They are satisfied. Gay activists, now that they have ruined this kid's life are feeling generous and don't think he should go to jail. They apparently have realized that hanging this kid in the name of gay rights hasn't made them or their cause more popular. Since the case is no longer a political advantage and they want everyone to forget about it, merely destroying his life and deporting him will be enough. They have graciously agreed that sending him to jail for years might make him into too much of a martyr and hurt the cause.

  • ||

    That's awfully tolerant and open minded of them.

  • fried wylie||

    sarcasmic|5.21.12 @ 10:46AM|#
    ...Tolerance means they are obligated to be intolerant of anything/anyone that disagrees with them...

  • sarcasmic||

    Have I started a meme?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    So having circuit parties and spreading AIDS like wildfire isn't enough for them? I'm trying to be sympathetic for their individual rights, but they make it very difficult.

  • ||

    HIV rates amoungst Black American urban women are climbing the fastest.

    Warning: Progressive use of the word "access" is used quite liberally in this article.

    It is true that gay/bisexual men do still have the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    So after all these years of "AIDS Awareness", they're still getting approx. 50,000 new cases per year? Are they that fucking stupid or they just don't care? Or is homosexuality the mental disorder it was once considered?

  • Zeb||

    People just get stupid when it comes time to stick their dicks in something. Hardly unique to gay men. Your just going to find a lot more men willing to have sex with several strangers in a night than you are women.

  • Bobarian||

    This is horrible statistics and awful cherry picking. Below is who they considered for this study to compare to general populations in Africa.

    woman 18 to 44 who has at least one of the following
    -Has engaged in unprotected (e.g. without a condom) vaginal and/or anal sex with a man during the prior 6 months [and]
    At least one of the following criteria:

    -Illicit injected and/or noninjected drug use within 6 months. [Not marijuana]
    -Alcohol dependence (within 6 months)
    Binge drinking defined as four or more drinks at one time within 6 months
    -Incarceration within 5 years (jail and/or prison)
    -STI (gonorrhea, Chlamydia, trichomonas, or syphilis) within 6 months
    -Exchange of sex for commodities (e.g. drugs, money, shelter) within 6 months
    -Male sexual partner within 6 months with any history of self-reported use of illicit injected or noninjected drugs within 6 months, incarceration (within 5 years), STIs (within 6 months), HIV-infected diagnosis, or history of binge drinking defined as 5 or more drinks at one time (within 6 months) and/or alcohol dependence (within 6 months)

    On top of this, we're talking about 5 out of 2099 women in this group developing HIV in a one year period. Given the low incidence rate, a much larger sample needed to be used to be valid and scientific.

  • Bobarian||

    THe gist of the linked study is
    'we found 2099 urban women of color who are going out of their way to try to contract AIDS and their incidence rate isn't any higher than all women in Africa.'

    Maybe this is supposed to be good news?

  • Zeb||

    And who the fuck is "they"? Do all gay people go to AIDS parties and fuck anything that moves? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Ascribing the actions or views of some members of a group to the whole group is some serious collectivist bullshit. Gay people in general are not answerable for the misdeeds of all gay people ever.
    If this causes you to lose respect for some people's individual rights, then you never had much respect for individual rights in the first place.

  • Bobarian||

    An AIDS party? Why else would you go?

  • Coeus||

    Health reasons. How do you think Jared lost all that weight?

  • AlmightyJB||

    He could have received the 30 days just for impeding the investigation. Or he could have gotten 30 days for videotaping someone in a private place without their knowledge and broadcasting the video without their consent. I think he got off fairly easy. Obviously he cannot be held complicit in the suicide nor was he based on that sentance. If he videotaped me having sex, showering, masterbating or fucking whatever in my bedroom and then put it out on the internet, he would be begging for 30 days as opposed to what I would do to this douchbag. I would fuck him up. Not sure what all the HR love for this asshole is all about.

  • John||

    But it wasn't a bedroom. It was a common area of a dorm room. If you jerk off in the living room and your roommates laptop accidentally records you, too bad. That is not the same as sticking a camera secretly in your bedroom, which is what you are implying.

  • ||

    I tend to agree. Yet another casualty in the War on Cheep Hotel Rooms. If you live with someone else in a dorm, particularly some immature college type, assume the worst. It also helps to stave off juvenile pranks, because we know 26 year old children would never pull a prank in bad taste. Inconceivable.

    Clearly we need more Greek saunas and steam rooms on college campuses.

  • JW||

    I don't agree with the idea that if you live in a dorm that you have zero expectation of privacy. Should you have the expectation that your roomie should stay out of your private shit in your drawers?

    It's one thing to unexpectedly walk in on a roomie gettin' busy, it's another thing altogether to set up a web cam and remote stream.

    I don't agree with what happened to Ravi in the courts, but it didn't happen without his help.

  • ||

    When patients are admitted to ward with patient roommates or in a nursing home with a roommate, the expectation of privacy is compromised, with often the only thing separating them is a curtain. Should dorm rooms have curtains to guarantee an expectation of privacy?

    Moreover, case law for live in boarders, like a nanny or an au pair, and renters have explicitly guaranteed privacy rights for those people, since their living space is separated by a discrete entryway, in these cases, a door.

    I get what you are saying, but the only way to guarantee privacy in this case is to live alone. And yes, I would think having your property unmolested by your roomie is a reasonable expectation. Best way to insure that doesn't happen is not to have a roomie.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "If you jerk off in the living room and your roommates laptop accidentally records you, too bad."

    I have a hard time believing it was all "accidental" to begin with. Even if it was though, he not only recorded it, he distributed it. You think that's cool. Fine. I'm just saying if my roommate recorded me having sex and posted to the internet I would be saying "too bad" when I "accidently" did a Kelly Thomas with a baseball bat on his punk ass. What he did was a punishable offense, if not by the courts, then through retaliation. You can figure out which one's a better option.

  • Hell's Librarian||

    It clearly wasn't an "accident" either, as he bragged about it and made plans to do it again.

  • AlmightyJB||

    If he did not post it to the internet which is what my understanding was of the case then that's a different situation altogether.

  • Hell's Librarian||

    Scroll down until you get to the Webcam incidents part of the article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....r_Clementi

  • JW||

    It's not love. It's the natural reaction to someone being railroaded far beyond any rational test, to satiate the hunger of a politically active and connected mob.

    You know, that thing called empathy.

  • wef||

    Or he could have gotten 30 days for videotaping someone in a private place without their knowledge and broadcasting the video without their consent.

    Did he videotape and broadcast anything? I've read various claims to that effect, but I have not seen anything to suggest that this is more than a rumor meant to inflate shock about the criminal insensitivity. Perhaps I am wrong, but do you have any link to a support for the claim?

  • MWG||

    No he did not.

  • Zeb||

    I don't know. From what I have heard (and I haven't been paying terribly close attention, so I may have missed something), he just viewed the video remotely, and didn't save or broadcast it anywhere. Nor did the video show anything more sexual than kissing.
    Except for possible interference in the investigation, I don't think he did anything that should be considered remotely criminal, or deserving of getting beat up by JB. He wanted to make sure the weird older guy who was hanging out in his room wasn't up to no good.
    And if you share a room with someone, you do not have much expectation of privacy from that person. It seems to me that you ought to be able to video your own room if you want to. Dorms suck.

  • ||

    then put it out on the internet

    Except it wasn't broadcast in any public sense. He viewed them kissing on a screen across the hall. It's like he livestreamed it on youtube OR ANYTHING CLOSE to that effect.

  • sloopyinca||

    He really needs to ask when and where it is proper to record one's own space (he paid for the use of the dorm room) when it is being used by someone you do not know (the man Clementi had in the room). And he needs to ask it over and over and over again.

    This is an absolute invasion of private property rights by the state. Ravi needs to bring that up, especially in light of so many cities recording people against their will and getting away with it while still going after private citizens who record public servants in the public domain.

    This sentence makes me sick. It's all about placating a group of people at the expense of individual liberty. That is always wrong. Always.

  • West Texas||

    Yeah, it's pretty clear the guy is an asshole, but he shouldn't have a criminal record now. Kick him out of college, make him attend on-campus insensitivity training, whatever... but if he wasn't culpable for the suicide the courts shouldn't have anything to do with it. Period. It's none of the state's business after that.

    This whole thing is just terribly wrong and unjust.

  • DJF||

    Does this mean that anytime gays out someone they should be sentenced to prison for insensitivity?

  • creech||

    Mayor Nutter: "This was an assassination! Oops, sorry, wrong case."

  • Rich||

    it is unlikely that Ravi would have been charged at all, let alone with a crime punishable by 10 years in prison, if Clementi had not jumped off the George Washington Bridge

    Hey, have you seen Trayvon's mother lately?

  • 16th amendment||

    They should still appeal the case, in order to get it off his criminal record, and in a hope to overturn this ridiculous hate crime statute, or at least limit it to cases where the hate directly led to crime.

    Then he should go to India and give up his US citizenship. This is not how we ought to treat our citizens.

  • RPR2||

    "This individual was not convicted of a hate crime," the judge said. "He was convicted of a bias crime."

    In other words even more Orwellian.

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