By: Lauren Saccone
The Rutgers webcam case, which spanned nearly two years and raised serious questions about privacy and the nature of hate crimes, finally came to an end on Monday. But the sentencing decision handed down by the judge has only raised more questions.
Dharun Ravi, the 20 year-old Rutgers student was convicted of videotaping his roommate Tyler Clementi without Clementi’s knowledge. The footage, which featured Clementi kissing another man, was broadcast to the internet via Ravi’s Twitter feed. A few days later, 18-year-old Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi was found guilty of invasion of privacy, although never directly charged for Clementi’s suicide. And on Monday, a New Jersey judge sentenced Ravi to 30 days in prison. Additionally, Ravi must undergo three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and pay a $10,000 fine.
After listening to nearly 3 hours of testimony, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman determined that Ravi did not deserve the possibly 10-year prison sentence risked for his conviction. Ravi’s actions, in the judge's opinion, had ultimately not been motivated by hatred or homophobia. Without those qualifiers, Ravi could not be sentenced for a hate crime.
“I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” Judge Berman told the court. “He had no reason to. But I do believe that he acted out of colossal insensitivity.”
The sentencing has shocked and dismayed many who followed the case, which became representative of cyberbullying and hate crimes across the country. Gay rights groups have criticized the verdict as far too lenient for actions that resulted in a suicide.
Judge Berman has also recommended that Ravi, an Indian citizen who was primarily raised in New Jersey, not be deported despite his conviction.
Ravi will begin serving his 30-day sentence on May 31.
[Pic via Wikimedia Commons- Asim18]