Hundreds rally in N.J. to keep former Rutgers student in Clementi case out of prison

Hundreds of people rallied outside the New Jersey Statehouse Monday in support of Dharun Ravi. The former Rutgers University student was convicted of bias intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his roommate.

Ravi, 20, could get up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced next week for using a webcam to spy on his roommate and see him kissing another man.

Tyler Clementi killed himself just days after the spying in September of 2010.

Most of those at the Statehouse rally were members of New Jersey’s Indian community.

Satish Mehtani of Edison said a prison sentence is too harsh.

“I want justice not vengeance, and we want Dharun Ravi to be free. He did make a stupid mistake, but he should be given punishment according to the crime, not for 10 years,” Mehtani said. “He has already suffered a lot.”

Supporters maintain Ravi did not commit a hate crime and should be sentenced to community service rather than prison.

The case has been blown out of proportion, said Bala Ganesan, a South Brunswick resident, during the rally.

“A silly prank by an 18-year-old in college for three weeks … should have been handled at the college level,” Ganesan said. “The harsh punishment that is under consideration should be reconsidered and he should go free. He has already suffered enough.”

Ravi was convicted in a jury trial in March after rejecting two plea deals that would have allowed him to avoid prison. Sentencing is set for May 21.

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