Rutgers Student's Shockingly Light Sentence Won't Deter Future Homophobic Crimes (VIDEO)

dharun raviNearly two years ago Rutgers University freshman Dharun Ravi set up a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi having a romantic encounter with another man. Days later Clementi killed himself. And this March Dharun was charged on 15 criminal counts including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.

The judge could have thrown the book at Dharun and sentenced him to 10 years in jail. Dharun could have been deported back to India, where he was born and remains a citizen.

Instead the judge handed down a shockingly light sentence: 30 days in jail and three years' probation. It's definitely not what I expected.

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I don't think Dharun should have gotten the full 10 years, but I would rather he got more than those 30 days. During Dharun's trial I read a New Yorker article on the case that surprised me. There's no question that Dharun was foolish and totally devoid of empathy. I would be sick and ashamed to be his mother. But was he really trying to hurt Tyler? I suspect he wasn't.

Contrary to rumor, Dharun did not record a video of Clementi. Dharun notified his friends via Twitter and text that Clementi was expecting a visitor ("It's happening again") and that he would be setting up a viewing party via webcam. But he didn't record and it looks like he didn't want Clementi to know what he was doing. I think there's a big difference between what Dharun did and actually releasing a video on the Internet in order to intentionally hurt or threaten his roommate. On the other hand, he did try to watch his roommate via webcam twice.

As far as being homophobic, I think Dharun was no more so than just about any other guy out there his age -- in other words, plenty homophobic but not out of the ordinary. Which is probably kind of scary, actually. I could see any insecure, attention-hungry, dickish 18-year-old guy doing what Dharun did and brushing it off as just a stupid prank.

There's no getting away from what happened next: Tyler Clementi killed himself. Just like Molly Wei will always be haunted by the part she played, Dharun will forever wish he hadn't tried to turn his roommate's activities into entertainment for a handful of friends -- but for all the wrong reasons. Dharun still doesn't believe Clementi killed himself because of his actions! I think the judge is right in saying he doesn't think Dharun will ever do anything like that again. I just wish Dharun's sentence were a little longer just to make sure no one else does anything like that, either.

As part of Dharun's probation, he must do 300 hours of community service, get counseling for cyber bullying and on "alternate lifestyles," and pay nearly $12,000 in fines.

Dharun's sentence isn't enough to scare others away from doing what he did. But the public scrutiny and criticism he faced may be. I hope so, anyway.


Do you think Dharun Ravi's sentence was fair?

 

Image via ABC News

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