Letters Asked Judge For Leniency In Webcam Case
The judge in the case of a former Rutgers student who used a webcam to see his roommate kiss another man has released more than 100 letters he received about the case.
They came from a man who was beaten in a racially motivated attack 30 years ago, a group representing lesbian, gay and transgendered people with South Asian heritage and the father of a suicide victim.
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Nearly all of them had the same theme: Show Dharun Ravi mercy after he was convicted of bias intimidation and other crimes against roommate Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in September 2010, days after the spying.
Last week, the judge, Glenn Berman, sentenced Ravi to 30 days in jail -- a fraction of the 10 years in prison he could have faced.
Letters to judge about NJ webcam spying case
Following are excerpts from some of the letters Judge Glenn Berman received as he considered the sentence for Dharun Ravi, who was convicted in March of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and other charges for using his webcam to see roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man. Clementi committed suicide days after the September 2010 invasion. Berman sentenced Ravi to 30 days in jail.
The last names and other information about the writers was redacted.
"As a 20 year old ... I would have probably done that (sic) same as Dharun. It's wrong but it is not punishable by prison and deportation."
Jackson, a former Rutgers sociology professor:
"My regrets over Gail's suicide is why I am presuming to write you about the Ravi case. Not a day goes by that I do not think of her and feel guilty over what I might have gone to prevent her suicide as well as grief over her loss. ... I am convinced that he had no idea that his immature prank would contribute to his roommate's suicide that he, like me, will punish himself with guilt for the rest of his life.
"If you decide to impose what some people might regard as a lenient disposition instead of a prison sentence and need an opinion on the side of mercy, feel free to publicize my reaction to my daughter's suicide. My view is that Ravi will carry to the end of his life a self-imposed punishment: regrets and guilt over his possible contribution to his roommate's death."
Dave, a Rutgers student:
"The entire trial is preposterous; a sop to the politically correct Lords of Homosexualism. There is no crime here. There are only (purported) impure thoughts. And `hurt feelings.' Which much be assuaged, preferably by burning Mr. Ravi at the stake. I had a class with Dharun Ravi, there is no way he has hate in his body ... silliness, yes hate, no!"
Allen, a member of the Navy:
"I am gay and I know what bullies are like. Dharun Ravi did not bully Tyler. ... and he does DESERVE to live in MY country that I fight for. This jury decision was clearly influenced by media, it needs to be overturned."
A group identifying itself as "members of South Asian Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Tran Communities," including scholars at Rutgers and the University of Massachusetts:
"We would like to point out that gay, lesbian and trans young people are bullied constantly in this country, and there have been many other suicides reported in the press that occurred as a result of bullying. However, we are not aware of any of the bullies in those cases being held responsible in a court of law for those suicides ... We believe that Mr. Ravi would have had a very different experience of the judicial system and the media had he not been the son of immigrants. We do not believe that justice for a gay man can be bought with injustice against an immigrant."
"Ravi did a stupid prank, but not a `hate crime!' Please consider the secluded and fearful live that Ravi has been living now. He has been punished already for a stupid prank."
Amitabha, of Succasunna, N.J.
"We have already lost a talented young man, Tyler Clementi, and it will be a double tragedy if Ravi's life is also ruined by a stiff sentence and is forced to leave the country he lived practically all his life."
Michael in Bellmawr:
"The severe penalty Dharun Ravi is facing is based on political pressure, not prosecutorial discretion. The biggest crime in this trial is overkill."
"Dharun Ravi's behavior was unpardonable, evil, sick, outrageous and has the psyche of a defective conscious. Please Honorable Judge Berman, impose the maximum sentence and disposition for justice for Tyler Clementi."
"I learned a lot about bias crimes and bullying through this case. The bullying and bias acts occurred when the legal system and media got involved. Ravi is not to blame for the hardships endured by the gay community nor should he be tied to the whipping post because of it. If Tyler was not gay, this would have been just a prank gone wrong and no one would have rushed to incarcerate."
Keith from Lincoln Park, N.J.:
"There is no such thing as `it was only a joke.' There are consequences for everything we do in life."
Ryan, a Rutgers University student:
"As a college student who was roomed with a gay student, I must say it was an extremely uncomfortable situation. I felt that every time I undressed he was looking at me ... I also had proof of encounters in my dorm room in case it was necessary. I never thought I was invading anyone's privacy. I felt my privacy was invaded every time another gay student was at my room with my roommate.... While gays are gaining acceptance it is unfair to ask others to be immediately tolerant."
Polly, the widow of a Minnesota state judge:
"I do hope that you will consider this young man must have grown much wiser as a result of his experience."
"Tyler is dead and Dharun Ravi did not kill him or force him to kill himself. Tyler killed himself, and only Tyler knows why. Please do not kill Dharun's future."
"Dharun Ravi deserves the maximum penalty. Please do not let this malicious, arrogant guy get away with only `a slap on the wrist.' Forty years ago, as a freshman in college, I was victimized in a similar situation at the University of California-Berkeley. I feel the pain to this day. Please give Dharun Ravi a harsh sentence."
Kishan, who is Indian-American and said that as a teenager in the 1980s, he was beaten with baseball bat by a group of white boys who were never prosecuted:
"Dharun Ravi did not physically hit Tyler Clementi. Dharun Ravi did not call Tyler Clementi any derogatory or degrading names. Dharun Ravi never threatened to kill Tyler Clementi, nor did Dharun Ravi engage in assisting Tyler Clementi with the decision to commit suicide. ... Bottom line, Dharun Ravi is a scapegoat, plain and simple!"
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)