A day after apologizing for the first time, a former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate has given up his right to remain free while New Jersey prosecutors appeal his 30-day jail sentence.
Dharun Ravi appeared in state court Wednesday to formally put on the record his decision to report to jail Thursday. NBC 4 New York has learned Ravi will likely get a 10-day credit for good behavior and may serve 20 days in jail.
His lawyer, Joseph Benedict, said Ravi intends to begin doing community service when he's out of jail, and will start paying fines on Aug. 1. His sentence includes 300 hours of community service and more than $11,000 in court assessments, $10,000 of which will go to support groups that assist victims of bias crimes.
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.
On Wednesday, Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure said she felt that statutory requirements warranted a five-year jail sentence.
But Ravi announced Tuesday he had decided to start his jail term despite the appeal. He also issued his first public apology while continuing to deny his actions were motivated by hate or bigotry.
Judge Berman agreed with Ravi on that point Wednesday. Explaining his decision on sentencing, the judge said Ravi's conduct was wrong, but he did not believe it was motivated by hatred. Instead, it was simple bias, he said.
"I can't find it in me to sentence this gentleman to a state prison that houses people convicted of offenses such as murder, armed robbery and rape," Berman added. "I know he's an adult, but I think the interests of justice demand I deviate from the guidelines."
Ravi was convicted in March of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other crimes for watching a brief live webstream of roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man in September 2010. Clementi threw himself from the George Washington Bridge days later after learning of the webcam.
Gay rights advocates held up Clementi as an example of the consequences of bullying. Ravi's supporters say Ravi was not a bully at all, but a college student who made a bad decision — and that the charges were so serious only because of Clementi's suicide — even though Ravi was not charged with his death.
In his apology issued through a lawyer on Tuesday, Ravi, 20, described his actions as "thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish."
He said getting his jail term out of the way is "the only way I can go on with my life."
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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