Tyler Clementi's parents: Justice done in Ravi's conviction

Posted: March 23, 2012

The parents of Tyler Clementi said Friday that they believe justice was done when their late son's Rutgers University roommate was convicted of bias-intimidation charges.

A week after the verdict in the webcam spying case, Jane and Joseph Clementi said they thought jury members had "reached their decision based on the facts shown by the evidence."

In a statement released by their attorney, the couple added, "the defense explanation of what happened was simply not believable."

The Clementis' comments came during a week in which Dharun Ravi, their son's roommate, has given a series of interviews in which he has repeated the arguments and explanations offered by his attorney during his three-week trial.

He was stupid and immature when he used his computer webcam to live-stream video of Clementi embracing a man in their dorm room, Ravi told the Newark-based Star-Ledger newspaper and ABC's 20/20.

But he said he was not trying to intimidate Clementi because he was gay.

Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, N.J., committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge days after learning of the spying incident and of tweet and text messages in which Ravi spread the word about the encounter.

While Clementi's death on Sept. 22, 2010, was not part of the case against Ravi, it became the catalyst for a national conversation about issues, such as bullying, faced by gay teenagers.

Neither the Clementis nor their attorney, Paul Mainardi, would address the comments Ravi has made in interviews this week.

"We appreciate the jury's efforts to carefully weigh all the evidence," the couple said in their statement. "This was a difficult decision on many levels but they followed the law and reached the correct verdict."

Ravi, 20, of Plainsboro, N.J., was convicted of all 15 counts he faced, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime. But the jury made a distinction within the four bias-intimidation counts.

Ravi was convicted of conduct that "caused" Clementi to believe "that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation."

Under each count, the jury rejected arguments that Ravi set out to invade Clementi's privacy "with the purpose" to intimidate him. The panel found him not guilty of that aspect of the charge.

Ravi, who is free on $25,000 bail, faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in May. His lawyer said he intends to file an appeal of the conviction.

Ravi also could face deportation to India. He came to the United States as a child with his parents.

In the past, the Clementis have said they thought Ravi should be held accountable, but they said they did not believe his punishment should be "harsh." They have not commented on his potential sentence.

In their statement, the Clementis said they hoped lessons had been learned from the tragedy.

"We have become all too aware of the consequences suffered by people who are singled out for being different," they said.

"In this digital age, we need to teach our youngsters that their actions have consequences. . . . Their words have real power to hurt or to help."

The Clementis have formed a foundation in their son's memory aimed at promoting responsible use of electronic media and focusing on the problems of gay bullying.

Tyler Clementi, described as a shy, introverted student and an accomplished violinist, told his parents he was gay shortly before the start of his freshman year at Rutgers in August 2010.

In an e-mail to a friend that became one of hundreds of court documents, he said his mother had "rejected" him because of it.

Through his defense attorneys during the trial and in public comments, Ravi said he believed other issues led to Clementi's suicide.

In his interview on 20/20, which was to air Friday, Ravi acknowledged that he had become a symbol for gay bullying, but he insisted he had not tried to intimidate or harass Clementi. During the trial, students who knew Ravi said that he didn't have any issue with homosexuals.

"It would be kind of obnoxious of me to think that I could have this profound effect on him," Ravi told ABC reporter Chris Cuomo. "I feel like I was an insignificant part of his life."

He told the Star-Ledger, "I didn't act out of hate."

Contact George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.

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