Tamil youth Dharun Ravi will be an unhappy, unwilling guest of the American jail system for 30-days following his sentencing today in the Tyler Clementi webcam spying case.
Victory for Dharun
Unswayed by arguments made by Dharun’s attorney Philip Nettl that there had been a “miscarriage of justice,” Judge Glenn Berman today sentenced 20-year-old Dharun to a 30-day jail term.
But given that the maximum prison term on the charges for which the jury convicted Dharun was 10 years, the 30-day jail term must be seen as a victory for Dharun Ravi and his legal team.
Of course, the prosecution and Tyler Clementi’s family will see the 30-day sentence as a slap on the wrist.
Dharun Ravi will have to surrender before the authorities on May 31.
Dharun will be on probation for three years, must do 300 hours of community service, undergo a counseling program on cyber-bulling and alternate lifestyles and pay $10,000 to the probation department to be used for bias victims.
Judge Berman will also recommend that Dharun not be deported after his jail term.
Dharun’s attorneys asked for a stay of the sentence.
The prosecution was unhappy with the sentence and said they’d appeal the judge’s decision.
Judge Berman made it clear he was not inclined to stay the sentence.
Dharun’s attorney Nettl asked for a retrial because Judge Berman had not reminded the jury during the final charge he provided them that Tyler Clementi’s suicide was not part of the case and that Dharun was not charged with with it.
But Judge Berman was not buying any of the defense attorney’s arguments for acquittal or retrial.
“A defendant in a criminal case is not entitled to a perfect trial, he’s entitled to a fair one….I’m convinced without any question he got a fair one, “Judge Berman said.
A New Jersey jury on March 16 had found 20-year-old Dharun guilty of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension and witness tampering for spying on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi.
After Dharun’s attorney’s argument for acquittal and retrial had been denied, Tyler Clementi’s father Mr.Joseph Clementi addressed the court.
“Mr.Ravi still doesn’t get it. He has no remorse,” Mr. Clementi said.
Tyler’s mother Jane Clementi had a hard time controlling her emotions as her husband was addressing the court.
Tyler’s brother then spoke followed by his mother Jane Clementi.
“What I want is justice….He broke the law and New Jersey does not tolerate criminal action without penalty,” a distraught Jane Clementi told the court.
Strong Indian Presence
Seated directly behind Dharun in the court room was a strong Indian contingent comprising of Dharun’s parents and friends.
The Indian-American community in New Jersey has been waging a strong battle through petitions to have Dharun acquitted.
Dharun Ravi did not address the court today but his mother did.
Dharun’s mother broke down completely on the stand and described her son as a loving boy.
“He doesn’t have any hatred in his heart for anybody,” Dharun’s mother told the court amid heavy sobs.
Seeing his mother break down, Dharun couldn’t restrain himself either and started crying.
Dharun’s mother blamed the media for “misconstructing the facts to the public.”
With the sentencing, another chapter of woe begins for 20-year-old Dharun, a resident of Plainsboro in New Jersey.
Dharun’s parents hail from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. His father Ravi Pazhani manages an IT consulting business.
Adding to Dharun’s troubles, he is a Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) and not an American citizen.
This means Dharun can be deported to India after his jail term is over.
But it’s unlikely he will be.