Washington: With a US jury handing down a guilty verdict in the trial of Dharun Ravi who secretly filmed his gay roommate's sexual encounter, Indian-Americans here have launched a White House petition campaign, saying the boy has been robbed of one of the most fundamental rights: "presumption of innocence".
Ravi, an ex-student of the Rutgers University, was convicted last week on charges of using a webcam to spy on his now-dead roommate Tyler Clementi's sexual encounter with another man.
Found guilty of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and witness and evidence tampering among other charges, Ravi now faces 10 years in prison. The sentencing has been set for 21 May.
The petition "Address the fact that media is driving Justice System's decisions: 18-year-old Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is NOT Biased" is addressed to the Obama administration and has been posted on the White House website.
The petition needs at least 25,000 signatures to evoke a response from the White House.
Over the weekend less than 1,000 signatures were signed in support of the petition.
"In 2010, Dharun Ravi, 18-year-old Rutgers student, secretly recorded his roommate Tyler Clementi with another man and posted it on the internet for everyone's view. For the next two years this is what was portrayed by media, politicians, activists worldwide and it was believed to be true. He was prejudged and declared guilty (10-year prison)," said the petition dated 16 March.
"In 2012, we know none of this is true: nothing was ever recorded/ broadcast; every single witness testified that Ravi had NO hatred towards gays; however muddled law led to guilty verdict. Ravi was robbed of one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution: "presumption of innocence," it said.
According to a mass email sent to Indian-Americans in support of the petition, every single witness testified unequivocally that Ravi had absolutely no hatred towards gays/homosexuals, however the prosecution decided that he did, they decided what was in his mind despite all the evidence saying otherwise.
"This is not the precedence we want to set. Instead of drawing lines in the sand and taking sides, let's come together as people and prove that we can make tough decisions and show some compassion, understanding, and sympathy," the email said.
"Please sign this if you believe that equality and tolerance should be achieved through honest, open communication and not through a vicious and vengeful prosecution that only serves to fuel tempers and alienate us even further," it said.