Webcam case: Sorry, says Indian-origin student

Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 23:05

New York: An Indian-origin student convicted
of hate crime charges for webcam spying on his roommate, who
later committed suicide, has said he is "sorry" for him and
did not act out of hatred when he watched the roommate`s
sexual encounter with another guy.

Dharun Ravi, 20, has been found guilty by a jury of bias
intimidation and invasion of privacy charges after a
three-week long trial.

He could face upto 10 years in prison and eventual
deportation to India when sentenced on May 21.

Ravi, who did not take the witness stand in his trial,
told the New Jersey Star Ledger, that he acted in an immature
manner two years ago when he spied on his Rutgers roommate
Tyler Clementi and did some stupid things as an 18-year old.
He says he was insensitive to Clementi`s feelings.

"I`m very sorry about Tyler," he said in an interview to
the paper.

"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 okay with me. I wanted to talk to his parents, but I
was afraid. I didn`t know what to say."

Ravi described Clementi as a very quiet guy with whom
"every conversation just hit a dead end."

He says he is not the same person he was two years ago,
the time when the incident unfolded in September 2010 and
Clementi`s suicide sparked a nationwide debate on
cyber bullying and society`s treatment of young gays and
lesbians.

"I don`t even recognise the person I was two years ago,"
he says.

"But I wasn`t biased. I didn`t act out of hate and I
wasn`t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay."

Ravi says the guilty verdict will not stop him or his
family to continue their fight to prove that he did not commit
a hate crime.

"The verdict actually made me feel energised," he said.
"We (his family, friends and attorneys) will keep going."
The young man, who has lived in America since he was
four, says he has never been uncomfortable with gay people and
had known a few gays.

"Now there`s a verdict out there that says I hate gays.
The jury has decided they know what is going on in my mind;
they can tell you what you think."

Ravi had turned down a plea deal that would have kept him
out of jail but would have required him to admit he had
intimidated Clementi, a charge Ravi has emphatically denied
throughout his trial.

"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."

Ravi says he was skeptical about Clementi`s partner MB,
who had looked "shady" to him.

He says if Clementi had been with a girl who "looked as
strange as MB, I would have done the same thing" adding that
when the police had come to him after Clementi went missing,
he thought it had something to do with MB.

As Ravi awaits his verdict, he says he regrets that
Clementi did not see his text in which he had apologised for
his behaviour.

Clementi wrote on his Facebook page that he was jumping
off the George Washington bridge just about the same time Ravi
had sent him a text message apologising for hurting his
feelings "One of the most frustrating parts is that he never
got my apology. I texted an apology and when he didn?t answer,
I e-mailed him. I told him I didn`t want him to feel pressure
to have to move and that we could work things out."

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 23:05

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