Breaking more than a year of silence, Dharun Ravi spoke for the first time about spying on his gay former roommate Tyler Clementi and insisted he's not homophobic.
Clementi committed suicide in September 2010, days after Ravi spied on him in a romantic encounter with another man using a videocamera planted in their dorm room.
Last Friday, a New Jersey jury convicted Ravi, an ex-Rutgers University student on 15 charges, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and evidence tampering.
"I'm very sorry about Tyler," Ravi told the Star-Ledger. "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.
These are some of the first words from Ravi, 20, who had publicly held his tongue since his arrest weeks into his freshman year.
Ravi spoke expansively with the Star-Ledger in an interview published today as he awaits sentencing on May 21. He faces 10 years in prison and possible deportation to India, where he was born.
Ravi didn't face charges for killing Clementi. The trial focused on his behavior towards his roommate in the days before he died.
Ravi wrote on Twitter about catching a glimpse of his gay roommate's love life. When Clementi requested private use of their dorm room again for another date, Ravi invited friends to tune in to his webcam for a broadcast.
Clementi complained to dorm officials when he learned of Ravi's intrusion and committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge.
Prosecutors offered Ravi a plea deal that included no prison sentence, but Ravi turned it down in December.
"I'm never going to regret not taking the plea," Ravi said in the interview. "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 was raised in Plainsboro, an ethnically diverse suburb in the Garden State. He said the multitude of nationalities prevented people from forming prejudiced opinions, although it wasn't until he enrolled at Rutgers that he encountered gay people.
After using a webcam activated from a friend's dorm room, Ravi tweeted about seeing Clementi "kissing a dude," and invited friends to a "viewing party" when he learned his roommate planned a second tryst with the man identified only as "M.B."
But Ravi insisted that he only spied the first time because he thought M.B. was a suspicious character, because of his scruffy appearance and unfriendly demeanor. Later, when police said Clementi disappeared, Ravi said he feared M.B. was behind it.
VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE RUTGERS WEBCAM SPY CASE:
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more