Webcam case: Sorry, says Indian-origin student
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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."


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

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