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Rutgers roommate who used webcam released after 20 days in jail; probation next

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 09:06


HACKENSACK, N.J. - A former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on his roommate's gay liaison will start completing the next stage of his sentence after being released from a Middlesex County jail on Tuesday.

Dharun Ravi, bearded and wearing brown pants and a blue T-shirt, left the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center shortly after 8:30 a.m., accompanied by his lawyer Steven Altman. He had served 20 days of his 30-day jail sentence because he earned credit for good behavior and working, Warden Edmond Cicchi had said.

Altman placed his arm around a smiling Ravi as the two left in the attorney's silver BMW. Ravi, 20, then arrived at his Plainsboro, N.J., home about an hour later in a sport utility vehicle driven by his father, Ravi Pazhani, and occupied by his mother, Sabitha Ravi. No one answered the door for reporters after Pazhani pulled the car into the garage.

Sabitha Ravi later grilled food in the back yard while family friends came and went.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, on Tuesday called the light sentence a "travesty of justice."

"Had Ravi gotten two years' jail time, or a year _ or heck, even six months _ any of those would have better reflected a balance of crime and punishment without vengeance for the sake of vengeance," he said. "Instead, 20 days in jail was a fleeting and repugnant non-lesson for a young man who passed up nearly every chance to show remorse."

Ravi was convicted in March of 15 charges, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and evidence tampering, in connection with his use of a remote webcam to watch his roommate, Tyler Clementi, who later committed suicide. He watched live-streamed images of Clementi, of Ridgewood, N.J., kissing another man, then wrote about it on Twitter and invited followers to watch a second encounter.

He was ordered by Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman to serve 30 days in jail and three years' probation, perform 300 community service hours, undergo counseling and make a $10,000 contribution to a state-licensed organization dedicated to assisting victims of bias crimes.

Despite an appeal of the conviction filed by Altman and a prosecution appeal of the sentence, Ravi voluntarily surrendered to authorities on May 31 to serve his jail sentence because he wanted to move on with his life.

During a court hearing last month, one of Ravi's lawyers told the judge Ravi planned to start performing community service and paying fines after his release.

Ravi must complete the community service within his three-year probationary term. Now that he is out of jail, the Middlesex County probation office will review Ravi's case and determine what assignment he will receive, said Winnie Comfort, director of the Office of Communications and Community Relations for New Jersey courts.

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