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Apology rejected as ex-Rutgers student starts jail

By Geoffrey Mulvihill

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 31 2012 1:48 p.m. MDT

A Middlesex County Sheriff's Dept. van, reportedly transporting Dharun Ravi to jail, drives away from the sheriff's office in New Brunswick, N.J., Thursday, May 31, 2012. The former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate turned himself in shortly after 12:30 p.m. to be fingerprinted and photographed before being driven to the county jail to serve a 30-day term.

Mel Evans, Associated Press

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate reported to jail Thursday as the victim's parents rejected his written apology as a "public relations piece" and said the judge missed an opportunity to highlight the seriousness of bias crimes.

Dharun Ravi, 20, checked into the county jail after agreeing to give up his right to remain free while prosecutors appeal his 30-day sentence.

His roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010 by jumping off New York's George Washington Bridge, just days after Ravi used a webcam to see him kissing another man.

Ravi declined the opportunity to speak at his sentencing last week, during which Judge Glenn Berman scolded him for never hearing Ravi apologize. Earlier this week, Ravi issued a statement in which he described his actions as "thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish."

In their first public comments on the sentencing, Joseph and Jane Clementi issued a statement Thursday in which they rejected Ravi's apology as insincere.

"As to the so-called 'apology,' it was, of course, no apology at all, but a public relations piece produced by Mr. Ravi's advisers only after Judge Berman scolded Mr. Ravi in open court for his failure to have expressed a word of remorse or apology," they said in a statement.

"A sincere apology is personal. Many people convicted of crimes address the victims and their families in court. Mr. Ravi was given that opportunity but chose to say nothing. His press release did not mention Tyler or our family, and it included no words of sincere remorse, compassion or responsibility for the pain he caused."

The Clementis also said they were troubled by the judge's decision not to impose jail time for the bias crimes for which Ravi was convicted.

Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation on the basis of sexual orientation — an offense widely referred to as a hate crime — and trying to cover his tracks by destroying text messages and tweets and tampering with a witness.

The judge indicated the jail time was directed at the attempted cover-up.

The Clementis said they never sought a harsh punishment but believe the judge should have specifically imposed at least some jail time for the bias crimes and invasion of privacy. Ravi was also ordered placed on three years' probation and ordered to pay $10,000 toward a program to help victims of hate crimes.

The Clementis said they are concerned that the probation was not consistent with the jury's unanimous verdicts.

They also said "it missed a valuable opportunity to reinforce the message that our society takes these types of crimes seriously, and that we will act decisively to protect individuals' privacy and human dignity."

Ravi reported to the jail in North Brunswick at 1:15 p.m. Thursday, dressed in a T-shirt, khakis and canvas sneakers.

Generally, people sentenced in New Jersey to 30-day jail terms get 10 days off for good behavior.

Even as he serves his time, his lawyers are appealing his conviction.

Follow Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill

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