Convicted former Rutgers student is ‘sorry about Tyler’
PLAINSBORO, New Jersey – The former U.S. university student convicted in the webcam spying case that ended in his gay roommate’s suicide says he was insensitive but not biased.
“I didn’t act out of hate, and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay,” the Indian-born Dharun Ravi told The Star-Ledger newspaper. He said he didn’t think about what the spying would mean to his roommate. “I know that’s wrong,” he said, “but that’s the truth.”
It was Ravi’s first interview in the case that opened a national debate over the pressures young gays and lesbians face in society.
The case began Sept. 19, 2010, when Ravi used a webcam to view part of Clementi’s dormitory room liaison with another man, then tweeted about it: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Ravi told friends two days later that they could see streaming live video that night, when Clementi was going to have his guest over again.
That second webcast never happened. The next night, Sept. 22, Clementi jumped to his death from a bridge.
Ravi, 20, was convicted last week on charges including invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation. He faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation.
“I’m very sorry about Tyler,” he said. “I have parents and a little brother, and I can only try to imagine how they feel. But I want the Clementis to know I had no problem with their son. I didn’t hate Tyler and I knew he was OK with me. I wanted to talk to his parents, but I was afraid. I didn’t know what to say.”
Ravi told the newspaper he was concerned about the appearance of the 30-year-old man Clementi met online and had invited to their room. The man has been identified only by the initials M.B.
“If it was a girl who came to the room and she looked as strange as M.B., I would have done the same thing,” Ravi said.
Ravi is to be sentenced May 21.
Before the case came to trial, prosecutors offered him a plea deal that would have called for no jail time.
I’m never going to regret not taking the plea,” Ravi said. “If I took the plea, I would have had to testify that I did what I did to intimidate Tyler, and that would be a lie. I won’t ever get up there and tell the world I hated Tyler because he was gay, or tell the world I was trying to hurt or intimidate him, because it’s not true.”