The judge in the Dharun Ravi case received more than 100 letters pleading for leniency in sentencing Ravi, convicted of bias intimidation and other charges after his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide.
Ravi was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail, plus a fine, probation, tolerance counseling, and community service, a sentence that prosecutors say they will appeal because they consider it too light. Clementi killed himself in 2010 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey after learning that Ravi, his roommate at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, had used a Web cam to view Clementi in an intimate encounter with another man.
After Ravi was convicted in March of 15 criminal counts, Judge Glenn Berman began receiving letters, some from hate-crimes survivors, urging him to be lenient in sentencing the young man, the Associated Press reports. During the sentencing hearing, he displayed a folder of the letters and later quoted one of them, which called Clementi’s suicide the “pink elephant” in the room.
At least a third of the letters came as a result of a campaign organized by Ravi’s supporters. More than 30 of the letters contained a preprinted message along with space for personal comments, according to the AP. The campaign “had probably some influence,” said Sandeep Sharma, a friend of Ravi’s family who was involved in the effort. “I think the judge himself did not believe that this case belonged to the criminal court system to begin with.”