NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his roommate having an intimate encounter with another man gave up his right to remain free on Wednesday while New Jersey prosecutors appeal his sentence.
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Dharun Ravi appeared in state court to formally put on the record his decision to report to jail Thursday to begin serving his 30-day jail sentence and waive his right not to be punished twice for the same crime.
His lawyer, Joseph Benedict, said Ravi will begin paying fines on Aug. 1 and will start his community service once he gets out of jail.
The state’s appeal of Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman’s sentence as too lenient had automatically stayed the sentence. Prosecutors were seeking to have Ravi sent to state prison rather than county jail, though not necessarily the 10-year maximum sentence Ravi faced for bias intimidation.
Middlesex County First Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure said in court Wednesday that she thought a five-year sentence would be appropriate, but said she understands a judge could rightfully order a shorter sentence.
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But Berman explained why he thought a 30-day jail sentence was appropriate.
“I can’t find it within me to remand this gentleman to state prison that houses people convicted of murder and rape,” Berman said in court. “That doesn’t fit this case.”
He also said one key factor was that he wanted to deter others from acting as Ravi did.
Days later, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
In addition to his 30-day jail sentence, Ravi was sentenced to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 towards a program to help victims of bias crimes.
Tuesday, Ravi issued a public apology for the first time since the death of his roommate.
“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 a 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 apologize to everyone affected by those choices.”
At his sentencing, the judge criticized Ravi for not showing remorse and told him: “I haven’t heard you apologize once.”
The trial and the sentence itself, has drawn both criticism and sympathy for the former Rutgers student.
“I think justice was served,” said Peter Kothari, an Indian community activist. ”The judge was very sympathetic to Ravi and whatever the sentence he gave was quite reasonable.”
“He inadvertently caused the kid to kill himself and whether or not they say it’s murder, it’s a pretty serious crime what he did,” said Timothy Simpson of Ridgewood, New Jersey.
Even though he is heading to jail, Ravi is moving ahead with an appeal of his conviction. With good behavior, his jail term could be as short as 20 days.
Because Ravi’s sentence is less than a year, it decreases the chances that federal immigration authorities will seek to have him deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen.
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