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Dharun Ravi Sentenced To 30 Days In Prison For Role In Tyler Clementi's Suicide

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Has justice been served?

Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student found guilty of a biased crime for secretly broadcasting gay roommate Tyler Clementi's private gay hookups, a catalyst in Clementi's 2010 suicide, was sentenced today to 30 days in jail, 300 hours of community service, counseling on cyber-bullying and LGBT communities.

In addition, Ravi must pay a $11,950 fine that will be donated to a state-sponsored group "dedicated to assisting victims of biased crimes," which as far as I know is a unique and appropriate addition.

Calling Ravi's actions "colossally insensitive and criminal," Judge Glenn Berman lambasted Ravi for an apparent lack of contrition. "I heard this jury say, 'guilty' 288 times--24 questions, 12 jurors. That's the multiplication. I haven't heard you apologize once."

Though Clementi's parents and friends have been asking for a harsh sentence for the apparent unremorseful Ravi — Clementi's mother called Ravi's actions "evil and malicious" — gay activists have advocated against the maximum 10-year and deportation sentence Ravi faced. Today many of them agreed with Judge Berman's decision.

Steven Goldstein from Garden State Equality remarked:

Those who have oppose giving Dharun Ravi jail time have asked, 'Hasn’t he suffered enough?' But we believe there’s another question:  Has Dharun Ravi done enough? Has he done enough to use his place in history to speak out against student bullying and to make a positive impact on millions of lives across our state and nation?

Thus far, no.

Though Tyler Clementi has left us, the rest of Dharun Ravi’s life will help tell his life story. Ravi’s own lawyer portrayed him as a young man who engaged merely in jerky behavior. Ravi can stay that course, or he can do some good with his life by making amends and fighting for the justice and dignity of every individual, including people who are LGBT. That much is up to Ravi.

Shane Windmeyer from Campus Pride said the case should serve as a reminder that all campus administrators and students have an obligation to work against anything even vaguely resembling discrimination or bigotry.

"Every person has a responsibility to stand up for those who experience bullying and harassment – tragedies can be averted anytime even a single voice speaks out for the voiceless,” he said.

"Bystanders – those who witness bullying or harassment and do nothing to stop it – can plead neither ignorance nor innocence. Active silence can be as damaging as active bullying and result in tragedies like Clementi’s death.”

Dan Savage described the sentencing as "far, far too lenient."

In addition to his immediate punishments, Ravi also faces three years probation. The prosecution, meanwhile, suggested today it may appeal Berman's decision. If they do not appeal, however, Ravi will report to a correctional facility on May 31st.


Dharun Ravi's Support From The Gay Community

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Reuters published an article yesterday neatly summarizing the support Dharun Ravi has received from various members of the gay community. (If you're just tuning in: Ravi is the 20-year-old who, two years ago, briefly used his webcam to spy on his new roommate, Tyler Clementi, during a gay hookup; Clementi committed suicide shortly thereafter, and Ravi's now been convicted of a hate crime. He could face substantial prison time, and will likely be deported.)

Reuters quoted Aaron Hicklin, the debonaire editor of Out:

"Ravi's conviction was a compelling signal that harassment and bullying of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people carries penalties," Aaron Hicklin [wrote] in an article arguing that Ravi be set free.

"Yet the verdict also left a bitter aftertaste, as if what was being satisfied was not justice, but revenge."

Hicklin cited a past comment by Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan that even if Clementi were alive today, he would have presented virtually the same case to the jury. Anyone who believes Kaplan, Hicklin wrote, is "kidding himself."

"Ravi was convicted because Clementi is dead," Hicklin wrote, adding that the suicide "left us reaching for simplistic answers where there are none."

... and gay rights activist Bill Dobbs:

At a rally in support of Ravi outside the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton this week, Bill Dobbs ... told the crowd that Ravi was "overcharged" in the incident.

"The hate crime law in New Jersey has got so many problems that it should be repealed," Dobbs said. "It has become a dangerous weapon that is not necessary."

... and Andrew Sullivan:

Sullivan ... said the hate crime charges, without which Ravi would likely get probation and no prison time, were "tenuous" and "repellent."

"This was a bigoted online hazing, followed by a judicial witch-hunt," Sullivan wrote.

... and lesbian writer E.J. Graff:

E.J. Graff ... said in her column in The American Prospect, "I fear that Ravi is an easy scapegoat for a complicated problem."

... and the head of Garden State Equality, Steven Goldstein:

"Justice is best served by his serving some jail time for the crime committed," ... Goldstein said. "The moderate position is not to throw the book at this young man, nor should he get off Scott free."

... and mentions that Ravi has the support of Dan Savage and New Jersey's gay ex-governor, Jim McGreevey, as well.

 


Dharun Ravi Defense Team Wants Hate Crime Convictions Dismissed

Dharun Ravi's defense attorneys filed a motion yesterday to have his hate crime convictions dismissed, saying there is not enough evidence, the Star-Ledger reports:

D_raviThe 33-page brief filed in Superior Court in New Brunswick contends evidence presented at trial showed Ravi was not guilty of invading the privacy or intimidating his roommate, Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in September 2010 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge soon after discovering the webcam incident. Ravi was not charged in Clementi’s death.

On the bias intimidation counts — Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced May 21 — the attorneys contend the law was misapplied. On some of those counts, the jury acquitted Ravi of intending to intimidate Clementi and the other man, but convicted him on grounds Clementi felt intimidated and felt Ravi’s actions were purposeful.

"There has been no evidence of bias nor evidence of intimidation," wrote the lawyers, Steven Altman and Philip Nettl, who represented Ravi at trial. Neither was there evidence Clementi felt intimidated, they wrote. "A person cannot be intimidated under the statute unless they were the recipient of intimidating behavior ... Here there was none."

Dharun Ravi defense team seeks to have hate crime convictions dismissed [star-ledger]


Preview of Dharun Ravi's '20/20' Interview On Tyler Clementi: VIDEO

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Dharun Ravi has been making the media rounds following the guilty verdict for his role in Tyler Clementi's 2010 suicide. First there was his sit-down with Newark's Star-Ledger, and now ABC News is promoting their own interview with Ravi, set to air tomorrow on 20/20.

In addition to saying again that he doesn't dislike gay people, Ravi tells journalist Chris Cuomo that he doesn't ultimately feel responsible for what happened.

"I feel like I was an insignificant part to his life. That’s giving me comfort now," he said, "The more and more I found out, it would be kind of obnoxious of me to think that I could have this profound effect on him." He also argues he couldn't have been the sole factor in Clementi's death: "He had bigger problems in his life," which is most likely true.

Ravi does, however, admit he was in the wrong by transmitting Clementi's gay hookup. "Even though I wasn’t the one who caused him to jump off the bridge, I did do things wrong and I was stupid about a lot of stuff." But he does believe he's been "used" to make an example, telling Cuomo, "I understand why people feel the need to punish me. Bad stuff happens and they need to set an example, but it’s unfortunate this has to be the case where this happens."

Watch a preview of Ravi's interview with ABC News, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "Preview of Dharun Ravi's '20/20' Interview On Tyler Clementi: VIDEO" »


Dharun Ravi On Tyler Clementi's Death: 'I Didn't Act Out Of Hate'

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Dharun Ravi has been mostly silent since his Rutgers roommate Tyler Clementi committed suicide after Ravi used a webcam to watch his private gay hookup. Now that he's been found guilty of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and others counts, Ravi sat down with Newark's Star-Ledger to explain himself.

Calling his actions immature, Ravi insists he "wasn’t biased." "I [just] got caught up in what I thought was funny, and my own ego."

"I didn’t act out of hate and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay," he told reporter Mark Di Ionna. "One of my friends had a gay roommate and I met a gay kid I liked a lot at orientation. They were cool. It was no big deal. Now there’s a verdict out there that says I hate gays. The jury has decided they know what is going on in my mind; they can tell you what you think."

Ravi also says he's sorry for all the pain he's caused, telling the paper, "I'm very sorry about Tyler… I have parents and a little brother, and I can only try to imagine how they feel. But I want the Clementis to know I had no problem with their son. I didn’t hate Tyler and I knew he was okay with me. I wanted to talk to his parents, but I was afraid. I didn’t know what to say."

Ravi will be sentenced on May 21, but vows he and his family will "fight on."


The Dharun Ravi Verdict:
Bias Crimes and the Changing Idea of Privacy

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Dharun Ravi didnt kill Tyler Clementi. He invaded his privacy and did so with antigay animus. Mr. Ravi focused a webcam on his roommate's bed so he and another student could watch live as Tyler "hooked up" with another man. He also had tweeted his sarcastic disappointment with his roommates sexuality. These are the facts as seen by a New Jersey jury, and given the guilty verdict, these are now the facts in the eyes of the law.

RaviThe verdict inspired satisfaction in some circles. While recognizing the tragedy, New York City Council Speaker and likely mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said that "justice has been served." Garden State Equality said Mr. Ravi will now face "the appropriate societal consequences." No one is "happy" with this verdict, as the Garden State Equality statement mercifully noted; but it is far from clear that a verdict that could result in decades of imprisonment for Mr. Ravi is "justice" or an "appropriate societal" reaction to this undisputed tragedy.

What is clear is that Mr. Ravi's guilty verdict is both a legal game-changer and a cultural indictment: it imposes new obligations on universities, breathes life into the legal standard for criminal bias, and clarifies the illegitimacy of a "boys will be boys" defense. But, not all of those are good things. Our ire belongs with Mr. Ravi, but so does our pity; our real focus should be the moral bankruptcy of a culture so quick to convict, but unwilling to care.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Dharun Ravi Verdict:
Bias Crimes and the Changing Idea of Privacy" »


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