Former Rutgers student convicted in webcam case to be released Tuesday

Dharun Ravi is to be released from jail after completing 20 days of his 30-day sentence. He got five days credit for good behavior and five for working while in jail. JOE MUNSON / Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger
Dharun Ravi is to be released from jail after completing 20 days of his 30-day sentence. He got five days credit for good behavior and five for working while in jail. JOE MUNSON / Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger
Posted: June 16, 2012

Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate having a sexual encounter, is set to be released from the Middlesex County Jail on Tuesday, after completing 20 days of his 30-day jail term.

Ravi, 20, received five days' credit for good behavior and five more for working while in jail, according to an Associated Press report. Such credits are standard for a 30-day sentence.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office plans to appeal the jail term imposed by Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, which it contends was too lenient. Prosecutors indicated they thought Ravi, who faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for his conviction of bias intimidation, should have received a prison term of three years.

Berman, who presided over the highly publicized trial this year, disagreed. Explaining his sentence, Berman said he did not believe Ravi should be incarcerated in a state prison, which a sentence of a year or more would have required. The judge also stated that he did not believe that Ravi had hated his roommate, fellow freshman Tyler Clementi.

Clementi, 18, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after learning that Ravi had used his laptop computer to webstream him kissing and embracing a man in their dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Several students, including Ravi, watched the encounter from a computer in another dorm, according to trial testimony. The viewing lasted just seconds, witness said.

Ravi, of Plainsboro, N.J., was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and related charges for that incident and a thwarted attempt to spy on Clementi again on Sept. 21. Authorities said Clementi learned of the attempt and shut down his roommate's computer the second night. On Sept. 22, Clementi, of Ridgewood, N.J., jumped to his death.

While his suicide was not part of the criminal case, it turned the incident into the focal point of a national debate over cyberbullying and the harassment of gay youth.

In a statement issued by his lawyers before he began serving his sentence, Ravi said his actions were "thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish." He offered a blanket, but unspecific, apology and insisted he was not motivated by "hate, bigotry, prejudice or a desire to hurt."

Ravi opted to begin his sentence May 31. He could have remained free pending the outcome of the prosecution's appeal. If the prosecution wins the appeal and a more severe sentence is imposed, Ravi could be reincarcerated with credit for the time he served.

Contact George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.

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