University shares mixed views on Ravi trial verdict


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Photo by Jovelle Tamayo |

Dharun Ravi and his attorneys Steve Altman and Phillip Nettl enter the Middlesex County Courthouse on Wednesday before the judge explains the 15 counts and 35 charges held against Ravi.


Dharun Ravi, a former University student, spied on his former roommate Tyler Clementi’s sexual encounter with another male in September 2010. Ravi could now face 10 years in prison and deportation.

Some University students debated whether Ravi’s actions deserve jail time.

Jurors on Friday unanimously agreed on 24 charges in 15 counts against Ravi, including two counts of invasion of privacy, two counts of attempted invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and with a witness, and hindering the apprehension or prosecution.

Alternate juror James Downey, who did not deliberate in the 15 counts, told The Record on Saturday that he would not have convicted Ravi on any of the charges stating Ravi’s actions were motivated but were not out of bias or hate against gays.

Brandon Thurman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he thought the jury’s verdict was harsh.

“I saw this as a cruel prank that turned into something worse,” Thurman said. “After Clementi’s suicide, it made the trial turn into what it turned into.”

Defense attorney Steve Altman said Ravi’s actions were just a “boyish prank.”

But Julia McClure, first assistant prosecutor for Middlesex County, said Ravi’s actions intended to damage Clementi’s dignity and were planned with intent to invade Clementi’s privacy because of his sexuality.

Thurman said if Clementi were viewed with a female instead of a male, circumstances would have been different.

“Because it was homosexual, it made it into a hate crime,” he said. “It was an incredibly cruel joke that turned into more.”

Thurman said he thinks if Ravi is given the maximum sentence, it would be too harsh of a punishment.

“He had no ill intent,” Thurman said of Ravi. “He didn’t know his roommate would commit suicide. Ten years in prison would be too harsh.”

Satya Adusumilli, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and Ravi’s Davison Hall C neighbor, said he thought the verdict was too harsh and Ravi did not deserve all the counts he was convicted with.

Adusumilli said he was surprised Ravi turned down two plea deals.

Ravi turned down a plea bargain in October 2011 that would have given him only three to five years in prison, with a chance that prison time could be waived altogether.

Ravi also turned down another plea deal in December 2011, which would have required Ravi to complete 600 hours of community service and receive counseling on cyberbullying and alternative lifestyles, according to a nj.com article.

Farshad Khansari, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said he did not think that Ravi should get a prison sentence for his webcam viewing, but should have let Clementi know there was a camera in the room.

“I feel as though people who kill or rape others should be in prison,” Khansari said. “People think Ravi killed Tyler, but he didn’t. I personally don’t think he knew what was going to happen. I think he was trying to humiliate him. … He shouldn’t go to jail for 10 years.”

Jason Freeman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he agrees with the jury’s verdict and said it was just.

“I think he turned the plea deal because he thought because he thought he was getting off with a lighter sentence,” Freeman said.

Yumi Oshima, a Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate student, said justice was served in this case, but agreed Ravi probably will not serve the potential 10-year sentence.

“I think he learned his lesson in this trial,” she said. “It’s definitely a cautionary tale.”


By Anastasia Millicker

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