Ravi will be sentenced to time served.
Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers University student whose bias intimidation conviction in the Tyler Clementi webcam case was overturned last month, has pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted invasion of privacy.
Dharun Ravi will be sentenced to time served for the third-degree charge and will spend no additional time in jail, reported NJ Advance Media.
Ravi, 24, admitted to attempting to activate a web camera to capture Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man with the intent of letting other people view it, but not publishing it over the internet. The activation, which came days after he first witnessed Clementi kiss the man, failed.
The decision brings an end to a case that made headlines nationwide, casting a spotlight on cyber bullying.
Ravi, who now works in IT in New York City, said he “feels good” and “relieved” that the case is finished. He declined to comment further.
“He just wants to disappear,” Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, said outside the courtroom.
Clementi’s parents, Joe and Jane, said in a statement that witnesses of cyber bullying “need to become upstanders for those in our society like Tyler, who cannot stand up for themselves.”
“We call on all young people and parents to think about their behavior and not be bystanders to bullying, harassment or humiliation,” the statement said. “Interrupt it, report it and reach out to victims to offer support.Â If this had happened in Tyler’s case our lives might be very different today.”
Ravi used a web cam to capture an intimate encounter Clementi, Ravi’s fellow freshman roommate, had with another man inside their Rutgers University dorm room in September 2010. Clementi, 18, committed suicide days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, reported NJ Advance Media.
Ravi was not charged in Clementi’s death. He was, however, convicted of a bias crime â€” which Altman appealed. His defense maintained the webcam incidents had nothing to do with Clementi’s decision to commit suicide.
Ravi was sentenced in 2012 to 30 days in jail, three years of probation and 300 hours of community service â€” all of which he has already completed as of May 30, 2015. Judge Joseph Paone on Thursday did not impose any further sentences. The judge said Ravi has demonstrated that he has lived a “law-abiding life for a substantial amount of time.”
“His youth and immaturity did not provide him with the tools necessary to help him understand the consequences of his actions,” Paone said. “He did not consider his conduct would cause serious emotional harm to Mr. Clementi.”
In September, an appellate court sided with Ravi’s attorney and overturned his convictions. The court also tossed his convictions of hindering his own apprehension and tampering with witnesses.
Altman had made the case that the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down a portion of the bias crime statute in a separate case that focused on the victim’s state of mind. The court said the defendant’s state of mind and intent is what matters â€” not the victims.
That March 2015 Supreme Court decision, Altman said, also brought into question decisions made by the trial judge, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, who is now retired. Berman permitted the prosecution to produce evidence of Tyler Clementi’s state of mind to the jury.
“The State used evidence revealing the victim’s reserved demeanor and expressions of shame and humiliation as a counterweight to defendant’s cavalier indifference and unabashed insensitivity to his roommate’s right to privacy and dignity,” the appellate court said in its September ruling. “The prosecutor aggressively pressed this point to the jury in her eloquent closing argument.”
It continued: “It is unreasonable to expect a rational juror to remain unaffected by this evidence.”
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement that the plea agreement was a “reasonable way to resolve the case.”
“Our sympathies remain with the victim’s family, which continues to work to protect our at-risk youth,” Carey said.
People magazine reported Clementiâ€™s mother, Jane, wrote this piece on the guilty plea by Ravi:
â€œTime is a very interesting concept. But what I have found is time is actually a very personal experience. My time stopped when my world crashed apart into a thousand pieces, on Sept. 22, 2010. It feels to me as if it was just yesterday. I was so numb for so long that it seemed as if time just stood still. The pain and anguish held me tight and would not go away or subside. My life was frozen in time. And yet in the same moment â€” if you can even imagine â€” there was this giant chasm of nothingness in which it seems like it was an eternity when I last heard Tylerâ€™s voice, his laugh or his music, and it is extremely difficult to remember the touch of his hand or his hug.
So to hear now that the time has come to move on is extremely painful â€¦ everyone is saying this has gone on long enough and now itâ€™s time to move on. I am told that Mr. Ravi wants this to go away and he wants to move on. He wants to get on with his life. So he will plead guilty to one of the many counts against him and then shut the door and move on with his life.
As if you can put part of your life in a box, tape it shut and poof it is gone. It does not exist any longer. If only it were that simple.
How can someone forget a life experience that had such drastic consequences? I cannot even imagine that. For that to be possible a person would have to have no heart or soul â€¦ no conscience at all.
We continue to learn as we journey on in this world from all our experiences. Maybe Mr. Ravi has not learned anything but due to the public nature of all the media coverage, I hope those reading this have learned something. Maybe there are loopholes in the legal system that allow a person to be charged with breaking the law 15 different ways to walk away with only 1 conviction, even though a jury of his peers found him guilty of all 15. Maybe the law can change on what the legal definition is of bias but the moral definition never changes.
It is hard to be part of a charade of justice, left to wonder where the truth fits in. This has been very confusing for my non-legal mind, a mind that likes to search for the truth and see a logical flow, which leads eventually toward some kind of understanding. What confuses me is the appellate judges stating that the prosecutors conceded on all four bias counts while the prosecutors say they only conceded the one count where the law had changed.
Maybe there is no logical conclusion or truth to be found in these conflicting statements. Something that I have learned through these most difficult days, months and years, is that some mysteries are meant to be left unexplained, at least in this world. Maybe the point of all this was not to find truth or justice but rather to learn â€” to find knowledge, maybe even a tiny bit of wisdom.
We certainly do need laws to protect the vulnerable among us, to set the bar for minimal acceptable behavior in a society where there is order and not complete chaos. Laws to keep a society from becoming completely barbaric and chaotic. But sometimes when the system fails and there are no consequences for breaking the law we might just need to search deeper and hope for a higher standard of morals. Maybe moral issues are better served in the court of public opinion.
We all have the ability and inner power to control our actions and words. We can choose actions and words that are mean-spirited, evil and cruelly tear people down, trying to humiliate and destroy them. Or we can draw upon our inner strength and courage to choose words and actions that will encourage someone else, to build them up and support their growth. The ability to give life, hope and peace to another human being.
I hope that all who read this will remember Tyler and allow Tylerâ€™s story to do a good work in them. I encourage everyone to move forward, not forgetting the past but rather remembering the past, maybe even because of the past learn to make smarter choices. What makes someone smart is not if they can get away with poor behavior but rather to display good character, kindness and respect in all the places and spaces one enters into, whether in person or in the electronic world.
Become an UpStander, someone who stands up and speaks out when they see someone being harassed and humiliated. Hold the people around you accountable for their words and actions. Let Tylerâ€™s story help you to remember to choose your words and actions to build people up and encourage all their unique gifts and support the very essence of their being. Help to build a culture of kindness, respect and empathy all around us.â€