March 23, 2012 — -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi claims that what may have been the most serious act in his hate crime conviction for spying on his gay roommate "actually wasn't my idea."
Ravi, 20, was convicted last week of invading the privacy of and trying to intimidate freshman roommate Tyler Clementi through webcam spying. The case gained national prominence when Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi, who was born in India, could be given five to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in May and faces the likelihood of being deported to India.
The case revolved around Ravi and another student peeking for several seconds at Clementi and his date through Ravi's webcam on Sept. 19, 2010, and then bragging on Twitter that he saw them kissing.
What compounded his crime was sending out a message that another date was set for Sept. 21 and inviting others to watch.
For the first time, Ravi said that the plans to spy on Sept. 21 was suggested by another student who wanted to see the older man who was Clementi's date. Ravi had described the date, publicly identified only by his initials M.B., as a "really weird guy" with a "mean expression on his face."
"That actually wasn't my idea," Ravi told "20/20" co-anchor Chris Cuomo in an exclusive broadcast interview. "This kid, he wanted to see the guy, so he says, 'Oh you should have your webcam like it was on Sunday so I can see who this guy is.'"
During the trial, Rutgers student Lokesh Ojha described how he helped Ravi on Sept. 21 position his webcam so it was pointed directly at Clementi's bed.
The peeking, Ravi said, was meant for an audience of one.
"He [Ojha] was the only one who knew that it was, like, no one else knew that....So as far as I knew, it was only going to be him," Ravi said.
He dismissed his Twitter message sent to friends saying, "Yes, it's happening again" and daring them to watch.
"That was me fooling around with my friends again, exaggerating, embellishing what was going on," Ravi said, referring to that Twitter message.
He rejected the suggestion that he or his friends were intent of seeing the two men engaged in sex.
"You're a guy, I'm a guy," he told Cuomo. "I don't know any of my friends that would want to see two guys having sex with each other. And that's something that never even entered my mind, that anyone would watch it for that," he said.
At least one juror said Ravi's moves to watch Clementi a second time and urging others to watch was key to his conviction.
Juror Lynn Audet said Ravi's plans to spy for a second time "changed my mind" and convinced her of Ravi's guilt. "A reasonable person would have closed it and ended it there, not tweeted about it," Audet told The New York Times last week.
Ravi now agrees. "After what I saw on the 19th, I should have just moved on," he told Cuomo.
The Sept. 21 spying session never took place. Ravi claimed he eventually decided "it didn't feel right" and turned the camera away from Clementi's bed, although prosecutors stated during the trial it was Clementi who turned off Ravi's computer that night.
Ravi insisted to Cuomo that he is not a bully, nor did he hate Clementi or gay people. It was that insistence that prompted him to reject a no-jail plea deal early because it would have required him to say he acted out of hatred for gays.
"I was only 18 years old (in 2010)," he said. "...in 18 years of life, I don't see how someone could have so much hate towards a group of people for any reason."
Ravi said that the use of technology exacerbated the sense that his actions were criminal.
"If you take all the technology out, this is just like I looked into the window and then left...and then told a bunch of people about it," he said to Cuomo. "I think technology kind of makes it seem a lot worse."
Ravi said he is appealing his convictions. His family has created an online petition asking the Obama administration to "(a)ddress the fact that media is driving (the) (j)ustice (s)ystem's decisions" and stating that "Dharun Ravi is NOT Biased." The petition has more than 4,500 signatures.