Photo by John O'Boyle via The Star-Ledger
Last week, Dharun Ravi was found guilty for spying on Tyler Clementi (he was not charged with Clementi's death by suicide). Although we've seen images of Ravi from the trial, we haven't heard his side of the story. Now, for the first time, Ravi speaks about the case in a two-hour exclusive interview with The Star-Ledger.
Ravi explains the diversity of his high school and explains: "It's hard to form hate when you grow up around so many different kinds of kids," but that he didn't have much experience with gays in Plainsboro, but met a few at Rutgers. "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 says he wanted to be friend with his new college roommate but that Tyler Clementi was reserved. "I thought I could expand my circle of friends. But he [Tyler] wasn't like that. He was very quiet and every conversation we had just hit a dead end."
Ravi also fills in some of the questions about this mysterious hookup of Tyler's, whom we only know as M.B. As Ravi tells states in the interview: "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." And that when the cops came to question him about Tyler's death, "I thought it was something sinister, that maybe he got mixed up with the wrong guy. I told one of my friends, 'I wish I recorded [the first incident, on Sept. 19], so I would have an image of the guy [M.B.] to give to the police."
Tyler's older brother, James, tried to explain his feelings about his brother in a piece in the March issue of Out magazine, "Letters to My Brother." And The New Yorker writer Ian Parker also reconstructed a version of the roommates' lives together before Tyler's suicide in a piece titled, "The Story of a Suicide," that used their electronic messages and social media updates.
Ravi has a message for the Clementis as well. "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."
Some have expresed the feeling that Ravi was wrong in not taking the plea that was offered to him. In a recent opinion piece, "Make the Punishment Fit the Cyber-Crime," in the NY Times, Emily Bazelon stated, "What's out of whack about Mr. Ravi's case is the harsh punishment he now faces: as much as 10 years in prison, for a 20-year-old who'd never been in legal trouble before." She went on to state it was Ravi's "mistake" not to take the community service and stand trial instead.
But Ravi is matter-of-fact on that front.
"I'm never going to regret not taking the plea," Ravi told The Ledger. "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."
The judge has set Ravi's sentencing date for May 21.