Prosecutor: Student in Webcam Case Deserves Prison
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - A former Rutgers University student did not show remorse for using a webcam to spy on his roommate kissing another man and should be sent to prison, prosecutors said in court filings Thursday.
Dharun Ravi was convicted in March of 15 criminal counts, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.
His roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010, days after the webcam viewing, which Ravi told friends about by texts and tweets. Once word spread of what happened, Clementi became seen by some as a symbol of the bullying young gays can face.
The verdict did little to settle the public debate about an emotional case.
Ravi has come to be viewed by some as a victim of overzealous prosecutors.
Since the conviction, a growing number of public figures - including former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, who is gay - has said Ravi should not go to prison for his crimes. A group of his supporters plan to rally Monday at the State House to make their case.
In court filings last week, Ravi’s lawyers asked a judge to overturn the jury’s verdict, or at least to give him probation rather than prison time - in part because a prison sentence could lead to deportation proceedings against Ravi, who is a citizen of India.
But in court filings Thursday, prosecutors said Judge Glenn Berman, who is scheduled to hand down a sentence on May 21, should disregard the defense position, keep the conviction and send Ravi to prison.
"Defendant has failed to accept a degree of responsibility for the numerous crimes he committed, and shows no remorse for the same," the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said in its sentencing memorandum.
To amplify the point, prosecutors included in the filing text messages they say Ravi sent to a friend the morning he was sent home from Rutgers after Clementi was known to be missing and was believed to have killed himself.
"How can I convince my mom to let me go back Friday and get drunk?" he asked in one. In another, he said: "Honestly, if he didn’t suicide, I might be in trouble. But now they’re more worried about me doing something stupid."
Those texts were not presented to the jury during the trial.
Two of the bias intimidation counts of which Ravi was convicted call for prison sentences of up to 10 years.
While prosecutors did not say exactly how much time they believe he should be made to serve, they did say that he does not have to be given the maximum sentence and sentences do not have to be given consecutively. In the court filings, they said they consulted with Clementi’s family and the other man who appeared in the webstream that Ravi viewed. Because he is also considered the victim of a sex crime, the man has been identified in court only by the initials M.B.
Clementi’s parents have said Ravi’s actions should have consequences but that he does not have to be given a "harsh punishment."
Before the case went to trial, Ravi rejected a plea deal that could have spared him prison time. But he would have had to have admitted guilt to six crimes, including bias intimidation.