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“Law and order cannot solve social problems,” he said. “If you put too much pressure on one person, you can crush someone on the receiving end.”

Marc Poirier, a professor at Seton Hall Law School, said the judge skillfully found a middle ground. “Having no jail time would have been interpreted as being a slap on the wrist,” he said. And a sentence of five to 10 years would be “out of control.”

The case began in September 2010 when Ravi’s randomly assigned roommate asked Ravi for the dorm room alone so that he and a guest could have privacy. Ravi went to a friend’s room, and they used a computer to watch Clementi and another man kissing.

They told others about it through instant messages and tweets, with Ravi boasting: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

When Clementi asked for privacy again two days later, Ravi agreed, then told friends how to access his webcam. But this time, the camera was not on when the guest came over. There was testimony both that Clementi unplugged it and that Ravi himself put it to sleep.

The next night, Clementi — who learned he had been spied on — committed suicide at age 18, leaving behind a final Facebook update: “jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”

Gay-rights activists held up Clementi as an example of the consequences of bullying gays. President Barack Obama himself weighed in on the tragedy.

Ravi was convicted in March 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.

As for Clementi’s suicide, his mother, Jane Clementi, told the judge she didn’t know exactly why her son killed himself. And Ravi’s lawyers argued that the trial was not fair because the judge did not give them details from Clementi’s computer that may have explained it.

Ravi is being “demonized by the gay community, and they’re associating whatever he did with the death of Tyler,” said lawyer Steven Altman.

Clementi’s father, Joe Clementi, told the judge that Ravi deserved to be punished, saying the young man saw his son as undeserving of basic human decency. The elder Clementi said Ravi “still does not get it” and has no remorse.

Ravi’s mother, Sabitha Ravi, said in court that her son “doesn’t have any hatred in his heart toward anybody.”

Dharun’s dreams are shattered and he has been living in hell for the past 20 months,” she said through tears, recounting how he has lost more than 20 pounds from an already-thin frame and how he only finds comfort with his little brother and his dog.

Before the trial, prosecutors had offered Ravi a plea bargain that called for no prison time. He turned it down.