Sentencing in the trial goes down May 21, but until then the public has a lot of time to weigh in on the verdict. Jurors have said that the experience was “intense” but that everyone was “open-minded.”
Renowned gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile said that the verdict was “just,” and that it was not the jury’s place to think about what crimes held heavier jail time:
[Ravi] and his legal team put faith in what they thought was a homophobic judicial system, one that would slough off hate crimes against gays—as it had so many times in the past—and once again validate the “gay panic”defense, which in this case was dressed up as the “teen prank” defense.
But it didn’t work. The jury did exactly as it was instructed to do, looking at the law and the 15 counts and returning with a guilty verdict on all of them. Ravi did spy on Clementi, thereby violating the invasion of privacy law. He did tamper with the evidence later, trying to delete text messages and tweets, knowing what he’d done. And all of the evidence shows that he did attempt to intimidate Clementi on the basis of his sexual orientation—and he succeeded—which was the basis of the hate crimes counts.
No jury that thought long and hard about the case could have returned with any other verdict. It is not the jury’s job to think about sentencing or punishment. It is its job to follow the law.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial board urges against serious jail time (Ravi faces up to 10 year) or deportation:
What Dharun Ravi did was creepy and childish. He used a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, kissing another man in their dorm at Rutgers. He invited other students to watch, and wrote about it on his Twitter feed. He was a geeky freshman trying to show off.
But that’s not enough to put him behind bars, in the company of rapists, muggers and killers—as allowed under the state’s sloppy hate crimes law. We hope the judge makes the exceptional call not to give him jail time—a decision that’s within his power.
Ravi wasn’t charged in Clementi’s death, though the gay student’s suicide was what poured gasoline on this fire. We’ll never know why Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge, so it’s unfair to pin that on Ravi.
He deserves the same type of punishment as Molly Wei, the other student charged with spying on Clementi: counseling and community service. Chances are, Ravi didn’t take a plea deal like she did because he was afraid he’d be deported to India. He’s here on a student visa.
Now, he’s looking at possible deportation and a state prison sentence. He’s certain to appeal, and the appellate judges should find this vague, confusing bias law unconstitutional. It’s a huge overreach in this case. What Ravi and Wei did was beyond mean. But it’s not clear they did it specifically because Clementi was gay.
There is an online petition saying the decision was “unfair” aimed at getting the attention of the White House. It has 2,000 of 25,000 signatures needed.
What do you guys think? We think Ravi deserve a year or two in the clink, for his refusal to apologize to Clementi’s family and his refusal to take a very generous plea deal. If he was afraid of being deported after taking a deal, as the Star-Ledger claims, he should’ve worked that out with prosecutors.