Matt Rainey for The New York Times
Dharun Ravi was found guilty on all 15 counts he was charged with, including bias intimidation, in connection to the 2010 death of his gay former roommate, Tyler Clementi.
Now, he’s being tried by the media and he’s been more successful.
“I wasn’t biased,” Mr. Ravi told The Star-Ledger, which scored the first interview with him since he was convicted and painted him in a sympathetic light. “I didn’t act out of hate and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay.”
Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge days after Mr. Ravi, using a webcam in their dorm room, spied on Mr. Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man, and invited other students to watch.
“I’m very sorry about Tyler,” Mr. Ravi, 20, a former Rutgers University student, told the newspaper. “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.”
After Mr. Clementi found out he was spied on and wanted to transfer rooms, Mr. Ravi says he sought to apologize for his actions. “One of the most frustrating parts is that he never got my apology,” Mr. Ravi told The Star-Ledger. “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.”
Mr. Ravi confessed to being “a dumb kid” who didn’t think about the consequences of the way he behaved with Mr. Clementi. “Looking back, I was very self-absorbed with the whole thing. It was never, ‘What if Tyler finds out, how’s he going to feel about it?’” said Mr. Ravi in an interview with ABC News that will be broadcast in the United States on Friday. “I was 18, I was stupid, I wouldn’t think about my actions beyond a minute into a future.”
The Star-Ledger, a newspaper in New Jersey, the same state Mr. Ravi is from, also ran an editorial saying that what he did was creepy and childish but not enough to put him behind bars. It also framed the debate as a larger problem of homophobia in the United States, for which Mr. Ravi shouldn’t have to pay the price.
The case has also raised the issue of homophobia in the vibrant Indian-American community. “Was this a result of an Indian cultural bias against gays?” a previous post on India Ink asked.
Now, a convicted Mr. Ravi, who is a legal U.S. resident but not a citizen, faces possible deportation to India. But that is likely to happen only after he finishes a prison sentence, which could be as long as 10 years. Mr. Ravi’s lawyer will be appealing the verdict.
Mr. Ravi was born in India and moved to the United States as a small child with his parents, where he has spent almost his entire life. His parents are not U.S. citizens. Immigration officials say green card holders like Mr. Ravi are vulnerable. If he was a naturalized citizen or his parents had got citizenship before he turned 18, he wouldn’t be deported.
Mr. Ravi’s supporters have already started petitioning for him.
We’ll get to know Mr. Ravi’s fate in the coming months. Sentencing is set for May.