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12 Jun 2012

Dharun Ravi to appeal hate crime conviction

The lawyer for Dharun Ravi, who was found guilty of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, and sentenced to 30 days in jail last month, has filed a notice to appeal his hate crime conviction.

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Both sides in the Dharun Ravi case are now appealing its outcome.

Dharun Ravi in court
According to media reports, Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, has filed a notice outlining his intention of appealing Ravi's March 16 conviction, and challenging the constitutionality of the bias intimidation law under which the former Rutgers freshman was convicted. 

The prosecution has earlier appealed Ravi’s 30-day sentence. Prosecutors want Ravi sent to state prison rather than county jail, though not necessarily the 10-year maximum sentence he faced for bias intimidation. 

Ravi was convicted of all 15 charges for bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, hindering his own apprehension and tampering with evidence for spying on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, with a webcam during an intimate encounter with a man in September 2010 and then tweeting about what he saw and inviting others to watch a planned second encounter. 

Clementi, 18, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge days after the incident. Ravi, 20, was not charged with causing Clementi's death. 

Ravi faced up to 10 years in prison on the second degree bias counts, but Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman sentenced him to 30 days in the county jail, three years probation and 300 hours of community service. The judge also ordered him to undergo counseling and contribute US$10,000 to a state-licensed, community-based organization dedicated to assisting victims of bias crimes. 

Ravi began serving his jail term on May 31, two days after apologising in a written statement. 

"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010, and September 21, 2010," Ravi said in the statement

"My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologise to everyone affected by those choices." 

Middlesex County First Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure told the judge during the hearing May 30 that she wanted Ravi sentenced to five years in state prison.

While some LGBT activists expressed shock at Dharun Ravi's 30-day jail sentence saying the sentence is too light to deter bullying, the case also outlined divisions among legal experts and gay advocacy groups over the wisdom of using prosecution to combat anti-gay prejudice.

Judge Berman has defended his decision saying the sentence “was fair, it was appropriate, and most of all, it was consistent.” “I can’t find it in me to remand him to state prison that houses people convicted of offenses such as murder, armed robbery and rape.”

He argued that the Legislature intended prison terms to be attached to bias crimes that were “assaultive or violent in nature,” not invasion of privacy.

"Hate crimes are tricky," said Marc Poirier, a professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law, who has studied bias-intimidation laws, was quoted as saying in the NY Daily News. "If you don't define them narrowly, it looks like you are punishing people for what they say or what they thought." 

Poirier, who is openly gay, observed that there was no violence or threat of violence against Clementi or his romantic partner. Poirier said he couldn't find another reported case that had treated invasion of privacy as a bias crime.  A harsher sentence would have been inappropriate, he said.

In May, a Reuters report quoted Aaron Hicklin, editor of Out magazine, as saying: "Ravi was convicted because Clementi is dead," Hicklin wrote, adding that the suicide "left us reaching for simplistic answers where there are none."

"Ravi's conviction was a compelling signal that harassment and bullying of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people carries penalties," Hicklin said in an article arguing that Ravi be set free.

"Yet the verdict also left a bitter aftertaste, as if what was being satisfied was not justice, but revenge."

Similarly, Andrew Sullivan, a gay blogger for The Daily Beast, said the hate crime charges, without which Ravi would likely get probation and no prison time, were “tenuous” and “repellent.” “This was a bigoted online hazing, followed by a judicial witch-hunt,” Sullivan wrote.

Jim McGreevey, the gay former governor of New Jersey, and Dan Savage, a gay columnist, are others who say that Ravi’s behaviour, while wrong, is being dealt with too harshly.

E.J. Graff, who writes about gay and lesbian issues, said in her column in The American Prospect, “I fear that Ravi is an easy scapegoat for a complicated problem.”

Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2012-06-12 20:09
2. 2012-06-12 20:49
Ravi Dharun's 30 days in jail is not enough in my opinion... should have sentenced him for at least 3 years in jail!
3. 2012-06-13 00:05
In my opinion, causing someone to commit suicide is equivalent to murder. 30 days' jail for murder? Is that justifiable? If cases like this is judged too lightly, then we can expect more hate crime.
4. 2012-06-13 00:14
Put him in Jail for one year and then deport him back to his own country......if not...others will do the same thing.

This guy got off with only 30 days and now he objects? He could have gotten 10 years in prison...
5. 2012-06-13 00:25
he is gay....now he will be in heaven, gay male inmates are waiting :D
so exciting...
6. 2012-06-13 01:35
we sometimes intentionally or unintentionally hurt someone, then u got to face whatever existing law is there.

"Revenge" it might be, stupidity kill. More often than not, the law protect the criminal because the decision is made by third party rather than the victim or victim's next of kin.

oh well...cry foul after effect

7. 2012-06-13 01:35
No3: "In my opinion, causing someone to commit suicide is equivalent to murder."

I disagree. We should be empowering our youngsters to believe that they have control over their own destiny > no one can "cause" you to commit suicide. When we start to blame someone else for our own actions, we disempower ourselves and we lose.
8. 2012-06-13 01:35
heimuk, you're stupid or may be moron.

this guy probably rich asian, who willing to pay million of dollars to pay a smart dirty lawyer. send him back to his country and make him learn his lesson.
9. 2012-06-13 04:34
#3: that's the point, he was not accused of causing Clementi to commit suicide.

In fact it was explicitly said during the trial that the charge is not about the suicide. Moreover, Clementi left a suicide note, but it was not made public at the trial, even less used against Ravi.

Ravi was charged of bias intimidation (not sure what it is) and invasion of privacy. This one is clear: he spied on Clementi on his webcam when he had sex with a guest.

What I read about the trial seems to say that his real animosity towards Clementi was not because of his sexuality, but because he (Ravi) was rich and Clementi was poor. I guess if Clementi had had a date with a girl, he would have spied on him with his webcam in exactly the same way.

In other words, he acted like an asshole but not a homophobic asshole, rather as a class conscious asshole.

This whole story made me uncomfortable because the suicide was constantly in the background while never legally used against him. It appears that Clementi had recently come out to his family which had taken it really bad. His family was party to the prosecution. Does it have to do with the fact that the suicide note was not made public?

Now I know I'll go against the stream but here is my take of it. This anti-hate law is good in principle. Here, it has been applied more or less for the first time and it has been blown out of proportion, perhaps out of guilt in the face of previous unpunished real hate crimes (Matthew Shepard who gave his name to the law, etc.). There is no way acting silly and spying on your roommate should land you in a 10 year jail sentence. It could land you in a few months jail and/or probation, community service and a kind of fine, as he got.

The result: the prosecution appeals the verdict. He counterappeals and challenges the constitutionality of the law. If this challenge is upheld, the law will be scrapped and will have to be rewritten.

First reaction: what a mess. Second reaction: oh well. We just had a similar situation in France. A anti-sexual harrassment law has been scrapped by our Constitutional Council because it had been challenged, and it had been challenged because its wording had been too imprecise and it had been unfairly used in some cases. On the one hand it is a disaster, because there is no law at all now. On the other hand, it means the next version of the law will hopefully be written more carefully and precisely.

Not too many flames, please :)
10. 2012-06-13 04:59
It's a hate crime any way you look at it... This guy intentionally set out to harass his gay roomie. He advertised the webcam that spied on his room mate to his freinds... it was all a big joke. Now I wonder if he is laughing in prison where gay sex is abundant. He got off too easy for his crime.
11. 2012-06-13 05:45
There is a slight problem here. He is indeed guilty of spying on his roommate and placing the video where other could see it. That is really tacky. However, tacky is not always a guilt sentence. It is in a sense bullying as well.
But the problem is look on Youtube and other websites were so many other college students film and spy on each other. Some of these are near as bad as this. Are each of these videos hate crimes? Or are they worthy of putting someone into prison? We need to think of all of this before we just judge.

I know originally I was for this guys head, but I have come to the understanding that even though I think this lousy bastard is not at all remorseful, there is little that can be done as it falls under the category of a college prank. A terrible one yes, but if we stop this or convict on this, what becomes of all the other college pranks that may not be very harmful, but embarrassing?

I am not at all saying he should not be punished, but the problem is to what degree? What did he do? And with that in mind, how many others have done it and not been bothered for their actions.

This is due to the other boy jumping off the bridge. It was a rather crazy move as one can see he was not too stable. he was highly emotional and did a rash thing. Who knows what made him do it. probably a whole batch of factors.

So I am all for a punishment, I think it was all in VERY bad taste, but how much can you punish someone for that? Just questions we need to look at before we quickly judge one way or the other.
12. 2012-06-13 07:00
The invasion of privacy is bad enough but there was definitely malicious intent involved in publicising the pics. Seems neither the criminal nor the courts have too many principles when it comes to dealing with difference
13. 2012-06-13 07:04
phonograph78... what Ravi did wrong was to choose parents with few ethics and no principles. Its a common problem throughout the whole of asia where selfishness and greed are the great role models
14. 2012-06-13 09:31
Denseaus, please just take your racist attitudes elsewhere.
15. 2012-06-13 11:40
I blame the media for implanting the ignorant beliefs so many people have. No one 'forced' anyone to commit suicide. It's NOT a hate crime, it's NOT murder. Just because some of you have opted to parrot what you've been told to believe doesn't make it true. Before anymore witch-burning sentiments are posted, please, PLEASE, don't let Anderson Cooper's initial emotion-based opinion skew your judgement.

Read Ian Parker's very detailed, fair and unbiased account from early this year in the New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/02/06/120206fa_fact_parker
Comment edited on 2012-06-13 11:43:39
16. 2012-06-13 12:10
If he is not an American citizen, revoke his visa and send him back to his country of origin. We already have enough problems with Americans who live here!

I am not going on Anderson Cooper's emotion-based opinion. I am trying to understand how someone could so blatantly violate another person's privacy and think there was nothing wrong with it.

No remorse; NO VISA!
17. 2012-06-13 16:18
speechless...
18. 2012-06-13 19:38
Though the judge gave him a light custodial sentence ( plus various other punishments), the jury was satisfied on the evidence that the motivation was a hatred towards the group to which the victim belonged, i.e. gay people., in order to convict him of bias intimidation. That has been found as a matter of fact.

I don't see that a hate crime has to involve violence. It can for example be a campaign of harassment by a homophobic or racist neighbour. These actions were definitely very serious harassment, leading to fatal consequences.
Comment edited on 2012-06-13 19:41:05
19. 2012-06-13 20:59
If he gets prison time, a good idea would be that he served/worked at a gay/lesbian center, (or any other minority group).
Prison as punishment is pointless. What would be better is that he gets the chance to truly understand the extent of his actions. Understanding and communication are the only way to erase ignorance and hatred. We should not use the same weapons as he used for his 'hate crime'.
20. 2012-06-13 22:48
whats really bothering me...about clementi a young 18yr committed suicide...ravi i hope u learnt ur stupidity childish actions that lead someone to death!!!may he haunt u every seconds...
21. 2012-06-14 00:49
He was found guilty in a court of law and his sentence is very very light....30 days in prison is NOTHING and no deterence for others for such hate crimes. The jury convicted him but the judge sentenced him.

This guy said, "
"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010, and September 21, 2010," Ravi said in the statement.

"My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologise to everyone affected by those choices."

If not motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice...blah blah blah. " everyone affected by those choices" ??? (yes....affected to push someone over the top to kill themselves)...then motivated by what?

I recently taught at an American university for a semester and these same types of "hate crimes" and prejudice against gay and lesbian and LGBT students is a terrible part of university life in many places. If these attitudes and CRIMES are not punished, there is no deterence and the hate will continue....

Put him in jail for a long time....
22. 2012-06-14 00:50
He was found guilty in a court of law and his sentence is very very light....30 days in prison is NOTHING and no deterence for others for such hate crimes. The jury convicted him but the judge sentenced him.

This guy said, "
"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010, and September 21, 2010," Ravi said in the statement.

"My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologise to everyone affected by those choices."

If not motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice...blah blah blah. " everyone affected by those choices" ??? (yes....affected to push someone over the top to kill themselves)...then motivated by what?

I recently taught at an American university for a semester and these same types of "hate crimes" and prejudice against gay and lesbian and LGBT students is a terrible part of university life in many places. If these attitudes and CRIMES are not punished, there is no deterence and the hate will continue....

Put him in jail for a long time....
23. 2012-06-14 00:50
He was found guilty in a court of law and his sentence is very very light....30 days in prison is NOTHING and no deterence for others for such hate crimes. The jury convicted him but the judge sentenced him.

This guy said, "
"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010, and September 21, 2010," Ravi said in the statement.

"My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologise to everyone affected by those choices."

If not motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice...blah blah blah. " everyone affected by those choices" ??? (yes....affected to push someone over the top to kill themselves)...then motivated by what?

I recently taught at an American university for a semester and these same types of "hate crimes" and prejudice against gay and lesbian and LGBT students is a terrible part of university life in many places. If these attitudes and CRIMES are not punished, there is no deterence and the hate will continue....

Put him in jail for a long time....
24. 2012-06-14 06:58
Kellen... since when has fact become racism. Racism is discrimination on the basis of race. What's racist about saying that chinese have black hair??
25. 2012-06-14 16:58
I'm with you on this, kellen. Really put off by denseaus' trollish racist comments.
26. 2012-06-14 20:46
nenihs, I'm glad to see your comment. I'm surprised no one has spoken up or maybe they're ahead by not feeding the troll. I'm not into feeding trolls but sometimes things just need to said.
27. 2012-06-15 06:12
:) @ kellen and others...
Here is a list of ways to recognise and deal with trolls:

http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/troll-tactics.html

28. 2012-06-17 04:42
So many interesting arguments here; many are besides the point and slippery slopes kind of arguments, but at least one is right to the point. Bravo Drelin! You're on topic.

The argument that Ravi's lawyer played, rich-bad-boy argument, is a good one. It is a great slippery slope argument to divert from hate crime. But this sounds like "everyone is doing it" kind of argument. In a homophobic society, isn't everyone is doing it when it comes to humiliation and persecution against the LGBTQ individuals? I think it is used because insanity won't work because Ravi is a Rutger for crying out loud. But why it is not a straight student being spied? why not another rich boy is victimized? and why are his coverts straight? Does he even have gay friends? what is his beliefs on homosexuality? the answers to these are unknown.

It's true that Hate crime sounds like a big umbrella term, but it is aimed to to protect the "not so obvious HATE" people ALWAYS play a role in vitimizing the LGBTQ victims. How do you proof a robbery against chinese or gay communities in Indonesia or in Malaysia when robberies happen everyday? Well, it's the specific detail that differentiate between them (the racial, sexual orientation, or certain patterns, etc) I think if the Clementi's lawyer look deeper into how obvious Clementi's homosexual behavior in his day-to-day life for other people to see and be uncomfortable with. It could develop the argument that Ravi, a roommate, is uncomfortable with it so much that his belief drove him to enact to the intent that "he already established," this argument is specific to Clementi's lifestyle, the gay target in Ravi's criminal act. Ravi must have known in some ways that his roommate is gay and Clementi is having sex in Ravi's "home." It must strike his discomfort (his belief on homosexuality especially when such "sinful" act happened in his "sacred place"). And isn't public humiliation a form of "punishment" on the bad behavior people do? Well, Clementi's homosexuality is the bad behavior that made Ravi uncomfortable; the support to the hate crime argument.

It's just a thought.

#Donseaus, the problem with your words (see 13) is how you framed your them. Few ethics and no principles, and selfishness and greed are the great role models, while they maybe true to SOME people (no denial here), you framed it as "a common problem throughout the whole of asia." Have you read the history of how people like John D. Rockefeller (JDR), Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg got rich? This little fact has offended the whole asians despite the fact that you are attracted to asians (I'm assuming from the fact that you're in Fridae.com). Some asians read the story of JDR and watched the "pirates of silicon valley" and "the social network" too. You may not know this, but just to share with you, some teachers of asian studies also teach and discuss about double standards and other social issues that are adopted by the asian communities (with the adoption of capitalism).

That's it y'all. let's learn from each other.
29. 2012-06-17 12:34
Keller and Nenihs84 both of your just made discriminating remarks and accuse someone else of the same....typical of a person with bias and lack of education
30. 2012-06-17 13:08
drelin, JohnBuckLINY & Jbn888, you all make great points.

It's important to be critical of the information we receive from the media. Not to mention that suicide is a complicated issue all of its own, and we can hardly assume a cause-and-effect situation from Dharun Ravi's regrettable actions.

But yes, drelin, I feel similarly: my irritation and general aversion to Ravi has to do with his class-based ignorance, rather than around his homophobia per se.
Comment edited on 2012-06-18 07:47:06
31. 2012-06-19 22:14
From the article...

"My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologise to everyone affected by those choices."

Well ok then, but hold on minute. He filmed and deliberately distributed the footage. He knew what he was doing, so for him to state he didn't wish to embarrass or humiliate is beyond the pale.

Ok he may well not be homophobic, but his actions were thoughtless and puerile to say the least.

As was mentioned above (#30) suicide is a complex issue, the victim may well have had many other issues to deal with and this could have simply 'pushed him over the edge'.

32. 2012-06-26 17:45
sad huh! the whole thing, I once worked with an Indian guy..he was as cute as Dharun Ravi too, any ways (wiping the dribble aside) he said to me one night about a 'queer' at work (not realising he was talking to a homosexual) that "they should all be shot, bloody poofters"... I said to him "I'm a homosexual".. in his slight alchoholic daze it suddenly dawned on him "yeah every one at work knows I am " well except him apparently, I was un-phased by his tirade, he apologised profusely to me, we stayed friends and at a later date he worked a gay bar the night during our once yearly sad mardis Gras event coming back to tell me about it, I think my embracing him and not rejecting him angrily for his prejudice made the difference, alot of non gay mens predjudices are instilled in them they just do and say what they are programmed to believe with out questioning those prejudices or feeling they need to, this is the sad story of prejudice gone really badly wrong and a insecure unhappy gay lad taking his life while a smart ass straight boy wrecks havock unaware of the consequences, lets hope he is genuine in his professed words and has learnt a valuable life lesson, we are fighting a cultural war for the hearts and minds of people our being heard hearted and vengeful will not win us any favours either.. so I'll pray for the spirit of this poor dead Gay Boy and the life and mind of the straight boy to be made right.

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