WATCH: Tyler Clementi’s Father Speaks, Post-Trial. How Harshly Should Ravi Be Punished?

Here’s a clip of a prepared statement that Tyler Clementi‘s father Joe delivered directly following the damning verdict in the trial of Dharun Ravi.

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.

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  • Caleb

    He should not be punished too harshly, but he should not get off with just counseling and community service. He was offered a plea deal, thought he could beat the rap, rolled the dice, and they came up snake eyes. Too bad for him! Giving criminal defendants light sentences akin to the rejected plea deal is bad policy as every criminal will demand a trial instead of plea out to an offense they obviously committed, clogging the already overburdened court system and wasting taxpayer money. That said, given the totality of the circumstances, Ravi probably deserves two years and community service, and deportation back to India.

  • Mikel D McGrew

    I firmly believe that Ravi deserves some prison time followed by deportation. What he did was cruel, despicable, and done to cause Clementi pain and anguish. He then tried to get away with his crime and thwart attempts to hold him accountable. This man has no place in American society and should not be allowed to remain in the United States. The life of any person is without price. That Clementi was so tortured that he jumped off the George Washington Bridge – which I cannot see from my apartment window without thinking of Clementi – demands justice in the form of prison time. I have no sympathy for Ravi who had none for Clementi. It is time people realized that their actions are not without effect and not without consquences.

  • melissa baker

    are you kidding me? creepy and childish? he is a rich, privileged 20 year old college student. unfortunately for him he was not well educated but felt entitled due to his wealth to commit a CRIME. he deserves jail time with rapists, muggers, and killers because he is one!

  • PokerFace

    @Caleb: One of the 12 jurors thinks dharun is innocent

    the juror thought dharun was innocent! that’s why his rolled the dice. watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xQny4eeFzc

    it’s your constitutional right for a right to a trial and a JUST trial.

  • Caleb

    @PokerFace: Actually, PokerFace, the juror who thought Ravi should have been acquitted was the alternate juror and his vote did not count. As it stands, Ravi did get a fair and just trial in which 12 people unanimously agreed on his guilt.

  • melissa baker

    PokerFace, get off this website. you are a homophobe and a relative/friend of this convicted ass.

  • Lisa

    @Caleb…Actually this is a new interview by one of the actual 12 jurors who voted, this is not one of the alternate jurors as you commented. One of the alternate jurors did state last week that he would have not voted guilty but this new interview, that is linked above on youtube, is not an alternate juror but one of the actual 12 jurors who voted guilty.

  • Caleb

    @Lisa: Oh, thanks for clearing that up, Lisa. So why did he vote him guilty if that was not his conscience? He should have stayed his ground and maintained his position.

  • Lisa

    @Caleb…That is a good question. If he thought that the evidence showed that Ravi was not guilty of the bias charges he should have stood his ground…but there have been many stories in the past of people on juries that say they vote one way or the other just to get it over with or are afraid to stand their ground against the other jurors.

  • Caleb

    @Lisa: Lisa, what really bothers me about it is the fact that he voted to convict, for whatever reason, and then went public. He should have at least had the common decency to keep his mouth shut. I’m sure he went public because he wanted attention.

  • doomsday1038

    He did not kill Tyler Clementi what he did was a prank.No one deserves jail time for that.

  • Caleb

    And when the teenagers dropped that shopping cart on the woman in Harlem from a 4th floor parking garage, that was also a prank too, right?

  • 1equalityUSA

    Perhaps the juror was offered a large amount of money to rescind his verdict.

  • erasure25

    @doomsday1038: He was not convicted of killing Tyler. He was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, tampering with evidence and some other charges. The judge will sentence him according those charges. A jury of his peers all determined there was enough evidence to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. He received a fair and just trial with a jury if his peers. He was offered a plea bargain but refused, so this is what he got. We should ALWAYS punish criminals for their crimes based on the evidence and the law — and the judge will do so here. Just because you feel sorry for him doesn’t mean he should be immune to our laws.

  • doomsday1038

    @Caleb: That was different those teens dropped that shopping cart.No one pushed Tyler Clementi.

  • erasure25

    @1equalityUSA: Or people who are anti-gay and/or sympathize with Ravi sent this guy death threats?

  • erasure25

    @doomsday1038: Again, you are making stuff up. Ravi was not charged with killing Tyler nor was he convicted of killing Tyler.

  • disco lives

    This kind of falls under the “there’s not enough prisons in America to house every person who commits [blank].” Maybe he shoudn’t get prison.

    I think Ravi’s lawyers are to blame…they convinced him that they could get a not-guilty verdict.

    Then again, there are tons of 15-year old black boys out there who get tried as adults and sent to jail for stealing ice cream- why is nobody publicly feeling sorry for them like they are for Ravi?

  • Gross

    The juror doesn’t say Ravi was innocent. Jesus you people are mouth breathers.

  • Giedrius

    I think he should get jail time and some community service OR be deported and ban from US for life time.

  • MKisNE

    I believe there was supposed to be an effort to protect him against deportation in that plea deal. I can’t site that because I’m going off memory.

  • B

    No. 21 · Gross wrote, “The juror doesn’t say Ravi was innocent.”

    What the juror said was that he did not think Ravi was homophobic or prejudiced against gays. His comments are relevant to the bias charge – the judge described the law on “bias intimidation” as “muddled”. On an appeal, that statement will probably be used to make a claim that the judge had admitted to not understanding the law (due to it being very poorly written) making instructions to the jury suspect.

    Part of the bias law seems to allow a conviction if the victim would reasonably assume he was being targeted based on sexual orientation, so Ravi could be convicted even if he was not motivated by a dislike for gays. If you check some of the legal analysis, there is a cogent argument that this particular part of the bias intimidation law may be unconstitutional due to being vague – it requires the defendant to guess how the victim might react and different individuals are going to make different guesses. Usually hate-crime laws are based on the motivation of the perpetrator, not what the victim might have thought was going on. The prohibition on vague laws, where it’s a guess as to whether a crime was actually committed or not, is there so that laws can’t be used to persecute people who are not liked while giving everyone else a free pass.

    One of the problems in determining if Tyler Clementi would reasonably have felt intimidated due to his sexual orientation is that he and Ravi had been roommates for several weeks: what Clementi might reasonably have believed would certainly have been influenced by how the two interacted with each other during that time, yet there was
    really no evidence of that introduced in the trial, in part because the victim could not testify. It wouldn’t be surprising if those sort of issues are why jurors said it was a difficult decision.

  • Caleb

    @B: B, that was an awesome explanation! Thank you for the well reasoned comment. And, by the way, I am an attorney!!!

  • Codswallop

    No he didn’t “push Tyler Clementi off a bridge” but he sure as hell greased the wheels to help make it happen. I don’t think Dharun Ravi deserves 5 or 10 years in prison with murderers and rapists but I’m getting sick and tired of this “poor little Ravi” bullshit.

    Dharun Ravi DID spy on Tyler Clementi in an intimate situation. He DID ‘tweet’, IM, put posts on Facebook, and gossip with everyone he could. He DID plan to do it again and issued an open invitation for other people to watch. (The only reason it didn’t happen is because Tyler himself unplugged Ravi’s computer.) When Dharub Ravi found out Tyler had killed himself he DID delete ‘tweets’ (god I hate that word) and IMs and he DID write new, fake ones. He DID ask other people to lie to the police about what he had done, thus proving he knew he bore some responsibility. He DID lie to the police and via his lawyers he lied in that courtroom with his ridiculous “I pointed a camera at my roommate’s bed because I didn’t want my stuff to be stolen” story. He DID refuse to accept a plea deal even though deportation had largely been taken off the table. He DID roll the dice and he he DID lose. So don’t give me this poor unfairly maligned Ravi HORSESHIT!

    Dharun Ravi didn’t push him over the GW Bridge but he certainly greased the wheels by creating the tone of mocking and ridicule that “MB” testified about, strange looks and derisive laughter. And journalists keep saying Tyler Clementi was “out,” as if by telling his parents and brother he was gay somehow made him ready for mass exposure on the level Dharun Ravi delivered to him. “Coming out” is not an event, it’s a process and Tyler Clementi was at the very beginning of that process, not fully out. I’m sure he intended to tell more people, to reveal himself further IN HIS OWN TIME when he felt comfortable doing so. Like every other freshman at Rutgers and all the schools across the US and the world, he was no doubt both scared and hopeful about what he would find in college: friends, a career, education, support, etc. Instead what he found was someone who spied on him electronically and gossiped about it to everyone who would listen. (And according to testimony it wasn’t just Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei who watched him that night- Molly Wei turned the camera on again later “for just a few seconds” for a group of girls who were in her room.) So is it really THAT hard to figure out why Tyler Clementi might have felt overwhelmed by those events? Just a few weeks earlier he had shown up with the hope of starting a new life and suddenly it must have seemed like it was all over, that he was and always would be “That Guy.” And don’t forget that everybody was sympathizing with Ravi for what HE had to put up with by having a gay roommate, while ignoring what he was doing by spying on his roommate.

    In fact I don’t think ANY 18 year old, straight or gay, male or female, would have just shrugged off these events, having their privacy invaded and their personal life gossiped about and mocked. Depending on their personality I’d expect them to be furious, upset, or depressed, to drop out of school, or throw all of Ravi’s things out the door, to start a fight, to call the police, to get drunk and perhaps drive, in short to do SOMETHING ill considered and rash. So let’s not get too deliberately stupid and disingenuous with this “Gosh, whatever could have made Tyler Clementi do something so out of character?!” business. Again, is it really that hard to figure out?

    But just as Tyler was young and stupid, so was Dharun Ravi and I think that has to be taken into consideration. I don’t know if he was “homophobic” or not but he certainly wasn’t comfortable rooming with a gay person. He apparently went into his own closet (literally) to change clothes so that Tyler didn’t see him undressed. He did some stupid things seemingly without stopping to consider the effect they might have. Yes he deserves to be punished but one young man is already dead and I don’t think destroying two lives is going to make anything better. It’s not going to end bullying or teen suicide. It’s truly unfortunate that Dharun Ravi was unwilling to admit ANY fault and take the deal he was offered. Whether out of arrogance or stunningly bad advice he rolled the dice and he lost. So now it’s up to the court to set an APPROPRIATE punishment, whatever that is. In my opinion there’s room for mercy here even though Dharun never offered much of it to Tyler Clementi.

    But take this poor little Ravi crap and shove it. He IS guilty. The only question here is what the appropriate punishment should be.

  • lloyd

    Granted, the third aspect of the bias law (the victim’s having being intimidated and reasonably believing that he was targeted because of sexual orientation) is the most difficult to interpret. But there certainly was evidence that Clementi felt intimidated: the Ra testified that he was quite uncomfortable, and he moved quickly to get a room change (first online and then, because he wasn’t getting fast results, he contacted the RA). As for “reasonably” believing he was targeted because of sexual orientation, that is not difficult to ascertain; Ravi’s tweets (that Clementi saw) clearly indicated that people should be interested because his roommate was making out with a dude and, in the planned viewing, “things could get nasty.”

    Note that for the second, attempted viewing, the jury found Ravi guilty on all three aspects of bias intimidation, including “purposely” trying to intimidate. Intimidation does not have to be violence; it can simply be a desire to make one feel uncomfortable and cowed. Wouldn’t you feel intimidated if someone were trying to publicly display your sexual activity? Ravi was getting his rocks off and trying to score points with peers by exposing the gay guy. All charges that involve intent have an element of subjectivity. One could argue that Ravi was so insensitive that he didn’t anticipate that a victim would not feel so good about being broadcast (it was all “good natured,” he said). The jury decided that Ravi was just being sly; they were smart.

  • Gross


    Except he was convicted of invading his privacy, which he did.

  • B

    No. 28 · Gross wrote, “@B: Except he was convicted of invading his privacy, which he did.”
    Hey Caleb, the juror in question was talking about the bias charge only, and that’s the one with by far the most jail time.

  • B

    Re No 29 – should have typed “Gross” instead of Caleb – somehow I typed the name
    of anohter person whose comment I read.

  • B

    Re No. 27: Lloyd, keep in mind that the charge was bias intimidation, not just intimidation. It requires intimidation on the basis of sexual orientation. Ravi’s tweet or text message about his roommate “making out with a dude” does not prove bias – the text could have been meant to be merely descriptive and that “gal” might have been used instead of “dude” if it was with a woman. Don’t ignore Twitter’s 140 character limit and the 160 character limit for text messages. Sometimes the way you would express yourself reflects needing to fit a single statement into such a small space.

    Plus a lot is missing – tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. As an example, I once was in a group discussion over some cups of coffee in which a wiseguy I know read a letter about a security clearance that started with something like, “During the course of our investigation, we have found that you are an occasional user of cannabis.” This was followed by him joking about other statements in the letter. I chipped in with a story about someone in a similar situation who was asked “How expensive is your, err, habit?” and he replied, “oh, about $20 per year.” At this point, the wiseguy quipped, “Oh, it doesn’t cost me anything. I buy in quantity and sell what I don’t need to friends.” Everyone laughed – we knew he had just made that up at the spur of the moment and was just pretending to confess to being a drug dealer. Now imagine it all being recorded in chat logs and the D.A. seeing it.

  • lloyd

    @B: Ravi said, “I just saw my roommate kissing a guy.” That wasn’t purely descriptive. Imagine “saw my roommate kissing a gal”–that would be ridiculous to say. Again, the jury was not dumb. The viewing party was promoted as a spectacle showing two dudes getting it on.

  • Codswallop

    Ravi also texted that he wanted to “keep the gays away” to his friend Michelle Huang, WHILE he was encouraging to watch the viewing party he was setting up.

    I suppose now you’re going to claim he could have put “gal” in there too now, or has your bullshit run its course yet?

  • KyleW

    I thought Clementi’s father made a very dignified statement.

  • B

    No. 32 · lloyd wrote, “@B: Ravi said, “I just saw my roommate kissing a guy.” That wasn’t purely descriptive. Imagine “saw my roommate kissing a gal”–that would be ridiculous to say.” Actually it is a purely descriptive statement and “I just saw my roommate kissing a gal” is shorter than “I just saw my roommate kissing a girlfriend.” Whether one would speak or write that way is simply a stylistic one, and with text messages and tweets, there are limits on length.

    Regarding No 33 – When Ravi texted that his computer would “keep the gays away”, the context was apparently some joking from Michelle Huang about people ending up in Ravi’s bed. In that case, it would be simply a silly statement, not an indication of malice. That’s the problem with trying to analyze text messages. A lot of the context is missing. Is something just a wisecrack or is it an indication of malice? It can be hard to tell and easy to misinterpret as the DA (or the defense, for that matter) tries to spin a particular context around the messages.

  • melissa baker

    is everyone missing the point? he was responsible for committing a CRIME that led to tyler’s death. he needs to be punished for what he did. please stop with all this bullshit analyzation.

  • Eric

    @doomsday1038: He was not charges with is death. I would like to know what you think I would deserve if I was recording you have a romantic encounter and invited other people to watch. If I had done this to a straight woman in his dorm- I would have been charges as a sex offender (Peeping Tom). No I don’t think he deserves 10 years nor do I think he will get 10 years. He should be sent to jail for 90 days, so he can get a taste of no privacy and sent back to his country in disgrace.

  • Jeff

    Straight people don’t like the verdict because many of them have treated us the way Tyler Clementi was treated. It scares them to think they could be held responsible. That’s why they’re making excuses for Ravi. While most of us have a thick skin, some of our brothers are gentle people and cant endure it the same way. They deserve to be treated better. This is a good step in that direction.

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