A former Rutgers University student openly apologized Tuesday for the first time for using a webcam to spy on a romantic meeting between a man and the student's roommate who later killed himself, saying he regrets his "thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices."
Dharun Ravi, who had been criticized by a judge for not showing remorse and for refusing to say he was sorry, also said he will begin serving a 30-day jail term Thursday, even though he doesn't have to because of appeals in the case.
Through a lawyer, Ravi issued his most contrite public statement yet in a case that made him a symbol of what his family called an overzealous prosecution and that made his roommate, Tyler Clementi, a prime example of what gay rights advocates said were the consequences of bullying.
"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. "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."
After spending two days repeatedly looking at the Twitter feed on which Ravi announced, "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay," Clementi, 18, threw himself from New York City's George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010.
In March, a jury convicted Ravi of all 15 criminal counts he faced, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. On two of the intimidation counts, he faced up to 10 years in state prison.
Last week, a judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail. 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. 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 Clementi's death.
Ravi, 20, could have remained free during the appeal but instead is volunteering to head to the Middlesex County Jail in New Brunswick.
"It's the only way I can go on with my life," he said.
When Ravi was sentenced, Judge Glenn J. Berman chastised him for not apologizing for his actions.
During the court proceeding, Ravi, who had said in March in a newspaper interview that he was "very sorry about Tyler," chose not to address the judge.
He told the Newark Star-Ledger in an interview done before the sentencing but published afterward that he did not want to say he was sorry when sentenced because he thought it would sound insincere.
During the sentencing, Tyler Clementi's brother James said that hearing an apology that late from Ravi would not be meaningful to him.