Saturday 25 November 2017

Student says sorry for webcam spying on gay room mate who committed suicide over sex encounter

Dharun Ravi. Photo: AP
Dharun Ravi. Photo: AP

A UNIVERSITY student who used a webcam to secretly spy on his gay room mate's sexual encounter has apologised for his role in the teenager's suicide.

Dharun Ravi, 20, issued the public statement two days before he begins a 30-day jail term after being convicted of intimidating Tyler Clementi and invading his privacy in the day's before Clementi killed himself.

The 18-year-old threw himself off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010 after Ravi, his room mate at Rutgers university, spied on him with another man and tweeted about what he saw.

Ravi was criticised by a judge for not showing contrition at the end of his trial in March but still received only a minimum sentence for crimes that could lead to up to 15 years in prison.

On Tuesday he issued, his most contrite public statement yet.

"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010, and September 21, 2010," he said.

"My behaviour and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologise to everyone affected by those choices."

Last week, a judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail beginning May 31. Because the sentence is less than a year, it decreases the chances that federal immigration authorities will seek to have Ravi deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen.

Prosecutors, finding the sentence too lenient, said they would appeal.

Ravi's lawyers have said they expect to appeal the convictions entirely. They say that he was not hateful and that authorities charged him with such serious crimes because of Clementi's suicide even though he was not charged with the 18-year-old's death.

Ravi could have remained free during the appeal but instead is volunteering to head to jail in New Jersey.

"It's the only way I can go on with my life," he said in the statement.

The apology comes as a reversal in course for Ravi, whose story inspired hundreds of people to rally at New Jersey's State House calling for no prison time and changes in the state's hate crime laws.

When Ravi was sentenced last month, Judge Glenn Berman chastised him for not apologizing for his actions.

"I heard this jury say 'guilty' 288 times," Berman said, referring to all the sub-parts of the charges Ravi faced repeated 12 times, once for each juror. "And I haven't heard you apologize once."

During the court proceeding, Ravi, who expressed remorse in March in a newspaper interview, chose not to address the judge, though he cried as his mother pleaded for mercy from the judge

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