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Parents of webcam spying victim learned from trial

The parents of Tyler Clementi were ready to accept a plea deal calling for no jail time for their son's Rutgers University roommate, who used a webcam to see their son and another man kissing.

But what they learned at trial made them more convinced that the roommate, Dharun Ravi, deserved to be sent to prison.

Tyler's mother, Jane Clementi, said it was only during the trial in March that she learned her son had viewed Ravi's Twitter posts about the webcam dozens of times in the hours before Tyler killed himself in September 2010.

"I did not realize he was in on the joke," Jane Clementi said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press and two other news outlets.

She said that detail made her understand her son's pain more.

The case drew worldwide attention after Clementi's suicide in September 2010, just days after the spying, and made her late son into a symbol of the perils of mistreating young gays.

Jane Clementi, her husband Joe and a son, James, have resumed talking to the media this week to promote the foundation they formed in Tyler's honor. Except for some brief written statements through their lawyer, they had not talked with the media since before Ravi's trial.

He was convicted in March of all 15 criminal counts he faced, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.

He was released from jail June 19 after serving 20 days of a 30- day sentence imposed by a judge who could have given him up to 10 years in prison.

Ravi was not charged with causing Tyler Clementi's death, but Clementi's family believes his behavior was a factor, especially in light of the tweets.

One of them read, in part: "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

Clementi's parents say he told them he was gay just before leaving for college, three weeks before his death, and that he was ready to be out on campus.

They believe that learning about the webcam humiliated him and made him realize that being out as gay on campus would not be so easy.

His parents say that jumping off the George Washington Bridge was ultimately their son's own decision — and a bad one.

In May, Ravi issued a statement in which he said he was sorry and was ready to serve his sentence. The Clementi's said they didn't see it as an apology, in part because it was not made directly to them. Still, Joe Clementi said, he expects to forgive Ravi, eventually.

The family is trying to figure out how to use the Tyler Clementi Foundation to teach responsible use of social media and increase acceptance of gays in schools, communities and even churches.

Jane Clementi said that until several years ago, when she realized her son James, now 26, was gay, she believed that homosexuality was a sin.

And she says that while she told Tyler she loved him after he came out to her, she believes she should have embraced that about him, not just tried to accept it.

"That needs to come off the sin list," Joe Clementi said.

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