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Former Rutgers student apologizes in roommate suicide case

May 29, 2012|By Tina Susman
  • Dharun Ravi in court this month in New Brunswick, N.J.
Dharun Ravi in court this month in New Brunswick, N.J. (Mel Evans / Associated Press )

Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi on Tuesday apologized for the first time for invading the privacy of his gay roommate, who later committed suicide, saying his behavior was “thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish.”

In a statement issued two days before he begins serving his 30-day jail term, Ravi said he never was motivated by anti-gay bias toward Tyler Clementi, who threw himself from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010. Days earlier, Clementi had learned that Ravi had spied on him during a date with a man in the dorm room they shared. He was 18.

"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on Sept. 19, 2010 and Sept. 21, 2010," Ravi said in a statement issued through his lawyers. "My behavior 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 apologize to everyone affected by those choices."

A jury in New Brunswick, N.J., in March convicted Ravi, now 20, of more than a dozen crimes, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, after concluding he targeted Clementi because he was gay. Ravi pleaded not guilty. He could have faced 10 years or more in prison because of the bias intimidation charges, which are considered hate crimes.

Ravi’s failure to apologize was noted repeatedly by speakers at his sentencing this month, including Clementi’s mother, father, brother and M.B., Clementi’s unidentified date the night Ravi secretly fixed a webcam at them. Ravi’s parents also spoke at the hearing, appealing for mercy for their son. Ravi did not speak.

Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman scolded Ravi for not saying he was sorry before he announced his sentence. “I heard this jury say 'guilty' 288 times -- 24 questions, 12 jurors -- that's the multiplication,” Berman said. “And I haven’t heard you apologize once.”

Berman went on to give Ravi a relatively light sentence, saying he did not believe Ravi had been motivated by anti-gay hatred and that he did not expect Ravi to commit future crimes.

In his one-page statement, Ravi noted that because prosecutors are appealing the sentence, he could have waited for that appeal to wind its way through the courts before beginning to serve his time. But he said he had decided to “accept and hopefully complete the sentence as soon as possible. It’s the only way I can go on with my life.”

Ravi did not explain why he had decided to apologize now, and the statement never mentions Tyler Clementi by name or alludes to his suicide. Ravi never was charged in connection with Clementi’s death, but his supporters said prosecutors and jurors unfairly linked Ravi to the suicide, thereby leading to harsher charges than were warranted.

"It’s his decision," one of Ravi’s lawyers, Steven Altman, said of Ravi’s statement, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. "He wanted to get it over with."

In addition to 30 days in jail, Ravi faces three years probation and was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service and pay $10,000 to an organization dedicated to assisting victims of bias crimes.

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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