Mark Dye / Reuters
Dharun Ravi, a Rutgers University student charged with bias intimidation, stands up after the jury leaves to begin deliberations in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County, New Brunswick, NJ. March 14.
Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers student convicted of a hate crime for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, says he doesn't regret refusing a plea deal.
Ravi spoke to the New Jersey Star-Ledger on Wednesday after being convicted last Friday of all 15 counts of privacy invasion, investigation tampering, and bias intimidation in a case that exploded when his former roommate, Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010, after finding out that Ravi saw him kissing another man and appeared to encourage others to watch through a camera on his computer.
Indian-born Ravi, 20, could face 10 years in prison when he's sentenced on May 21 and be deported after he's finished serving his time. In his two-hour exclusive interview with the Star-Ledger, he told the newspaper, "The verdict actually made me feel energized. We (his family, friends and attorneys) will keep going."
"I’m never going to regret not taking the plea," Ravi told the Star-Ledger, published on NJ.com on Thursday. "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 did not testify in his own defense in the month-long trial, in which jurors were urged in summations by defense lawyer Steven Altman to dismiss Ravi's actions as those of a foolish child trying to impress others rather than a bully who harbored a prejudice against gays.
Clementi checked Ravi's Twitter account 38 times in the two days before he killed himself, the prosecution told the jury.
Ravi admitted in his interview with the newspaper that he was immature as a college freshman
"But I wasn’t biased," Ravi said. "I didn’t act out of hate and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay."
'It's hard to form hate'
Ravi said he feels as though he's been portrayed unfairly. From his family home in Plainsboro, N.J., Ravi told the newspaper, "My high school has all kinds of kids. There were a lot of Indians, Chinese, Korean kids, some Hispanic, white kids. It’s hard to form hate when you grow up around so many different kinds of kids."
He said there were few openly gay kids in his town, but he met some at college.
"One of my friends had a gay roommate and I met a gay kid I liked a lot at orientation. They were cool. It was no big deal. 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's friends knew him as a computer whiz, and he admitted he was showing off, he told the paper.
"I never really thought about what it would mean to Tyler," he said. "I know that’s wrong, but that’s the truth."
He said he was frustrated that Tyler couldn't hear how sorry he is.
"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," he said.
The text he was referring to - sent after Tyler was headed to his suicide jump - was shown in court.
"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 okay with me. I wanted to talk to his parents, but I was afraid. I didn’t know what to say.
"At first, I actually thought I could be helpful because as far as I knew, I was the last one to see him alive."
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