TRENTON, N.J. — The parents of a Rutgers student who committed suicide days after his roommate used a webcam to see him kissing another man said Friday that a jury got it right last week by convicting their son’s roommate of hate crimes and other offenses.
“They reached their decision based on the facts shown by the evidence,” Tyler Clementi’s father, Joseph Clementi, said in a written statement. “At the conclusion of the trial, the defense’s explanation of what happened was simply not believable.”
Meanwhile, the other man in the live streaming video — identified in court only by the initials M.B. — said the roommate, Dharun Ravi, deserves prison time for his actions.
“If the judge simply gave him probation, he would feel that this case escaped justice,” Richard Pompelio, a victims’ rights lawyer representing M.B., told The Record of Bergen County.
The statements were the first public reactions to the verdict from the Clementi family and M.B. They came as Ravi granted his first interviews nearly a week after he was convicted on all 15 criminal counts he faced, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime. The jury found that Ravi knowingly and purposefully intimidated Clementi because of his sexual orientation and that Clementi believed he was being targeted out of bias.
Ravi could face up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced on May 21.
In recent interviews, Ravi, now 20, said that he acted inappropriately by using a webcam to see what was happening in his room when Tyler Clementi asked to have privacy for himself and M.B. But he said it was not out of hate toward gays.
He also said that he has come to believe that Clementi’s suicide in September 2010 off the George Washington Bridge wasn’t caused by the webcam viewing a few days earlier.
“The more and more I found out, it would be kind of obnoxious of me to think that I could have this profound effect on him,” Ravi told ABC News’ “20/20” in an interview scheduled to air Friday. “After all this time and reading his conversations and how and what he was doing before, I really don’t think he cared at all. I feel like I was an insignificant part to his life. That’s giving me comfort now.”
Clementi’s family has launched a foundation in Tyler’s memory to promote responsible use of technology and acceptance of people with differences — especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“We have learned that LGBT teens, especially, suffer pain, embarrassment and ridicule which is made worse by improper use of electronic media,” Clementi’s mother, Jane, said in the statement.