Dharun Ravi was found guilty last week on fifteen counts, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, and evidence tampering, for spying on his Rutgers roommate Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in 2010, opening up a national conversation on gay bullying. At Ravi’s sentencing in May, he faces up to ten years in prison and could be deported, but in his first interview since the verdict, Ravi tells the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he doesn’t wish he had taken a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail. “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.”
Throughout the talk at his New Jersey home, Ravi is somewhat defiant, blaming his ego and immaturity, but insisting that when he attempted to point his web cam at Clementi’s bed during two romantic encounters, it wasn’t because Clementi was gay, it was because of his roommate’s “shady” visitor. “If it was a girl who came to the room and she looked as strange as M.B., I would have done the same thing,” said Ravi, referring to the man Clementi met online, whose name remains private. He still sounds like a kid trying to justify his actions, and it remains difficult to separate emotions from the law in this case.
“I didn’t act out of hate and I wasn’t uncomfortable with Tyler being gay,” Ravi insists to columnist Mark Di Ionno. “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, who was not charged in Clementi’s death, says he is “very sorry about Tyler” but is adamant that he did not commit a hate crime. “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.”