Lawyers in Tyler Clementi Trial Lay Out Their Cases

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The reading of racy texts and details about the night students crowded around a computer in a college dorm room to see Tyler Clementi kiss a man were part of the first day of testimony in the Rutgers webcam spying case.

Opening statements began Friday in the trial of Dharun Ravi, 19, who faces 15 criminal counts — including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and hindering an investigation — in connection to two incidents in September 2010 when he allegedly remotely turned on the webcam of his computer while his roommate, Tyler Clementi, was having an intimate encounter with a man.

Clementi complained to the university when he realized what had happened and committed suicide days later.

All the testimony came from college students who knew Ravi to various degrees. One witness, Cassandra Cicco, was among a group of four students who were invited into a dorm room to see what the webcam was capturing of Clementi’s encounter.

She said the students talked more about the fact that the unidentified man with Clementi was so old, rather than the two of them being gay.

“He was old, but not obscenely old,” Cicco said.

A friend of Ravi’s said the two talked after the incident and that Ravi said he was uncomfortable with Clementi using the dorm room for sex with a man and that he didn’t know what to do about it.

The testimony followed opening statements, first by the prosecutor who told the jury Ravi wanted to "brand" his roommate as an outsider because he was gay.

“It was not a prank,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Julia McClure said Friday. “It was mean spirited, it was malicious and it was criminal.”

But the defense described the events of September 2010 as just the acts of an immature kid who was uncomfortable but not hateful.

“He might be stupid at times, but he’s certainly not a criminal. He’s an 18 year old boy,” the attorney said.

The prosecution called a friend of Ravi’s who received an instant message from him about the first webcam incident. Ravi wrote “I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam and saw my roommate kissing a dude.”

The friend, Austin Chang, replied with “ewww…wtf.”

The prosecution also detailed how Ravi deleted emails and tweets he sent after he was contacted by police officers. McClure calls it “calculated” because Ravi changed and sent out new tweets meant to change his original invitation for people to watch his iChat stream on the night Clementi was with the man.

"The defendant’s acts were deliberately planned to invade Tyler’s privacy, deprive him of that privacy and deprive him of his dignity," McClure told the jury in the final sentence of her opening statement "And that’s why we’re here."

Defense attorney Steve Altman opened his case by telling the jury the prosecution's comments are out of context. When Ravi looked up his new roommate on the internet — something every college kid does — he found his email address on a gay website. 

"He did what an 18-year-old boy who’d just graduated high school is gonna do – he’s gonna say, 'Aw nuts,'" he said. "He's not hateful. He's not a bigot. ...  In fact, Dharun never intimidated. He's not homophobic. He's not anti-gay. He never recorded any image of his roommate. ... There was no bullying."

The case is being watched closely because it raises questions about how to define teen-age bullying in the internet age and whether hate crime laws should be applied when there is no act of violence.

Clementi's death touched off national conversations about the bullying of young gays and cyberbullying.

The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.

With the Associated Press


Comments [4]

dylan terreri, i from nashville

so, a gay "man" at rutgers was recorded by a hidden camera as he was kissing another masculivoid while alone in a dorm room. it gets onto the internet and he kills himself because - because why? because he was ashamed of being a masculivoid? because he was ashamed that his own masculine presence left him feeling a need for another man in his life? the activists who sentenced his roommate to prison for hiding the camera are making the dead masculine insufficiency out to be a victim to feel pity for - this is not right because the same activists made it a crime for any masculivoid to go to a therapist for help to overcome an emotional desire for masculinity.

in other words, maybe it is the fault of gay activists that this rutgers masculivoid is dead. apparently, the dead homosexual didn't think it was "okay to be gay," maybe he wanted a therapist to help him internalize masculine gender-identity while his inability to find one kept him looking at men like a kid looks through the windows of a candy store. if someone doesn't think it's "okay to be gay" and he eventually kills himself because no therapist will help him to grow up and grow out of his outside-looking-in type of gender-disorientation...his death is the fault of the activists who predominately banished the therapy that helps one become well-oriented and in-touch with one's own gender. i'm actually surprised that gay activists didn't think it was anti-gay for nate, mike, shawn and wan to call themselves "boyz ii men," simply because of the self-realization (penis-realization) implied in a boy reaching manhood.

the rutgers masculivoid obviously had a problem with his own curiosity of the masculine gender. maybe feeling incomplete without another man in his life made him feel that he wasn't man enough, maybe he wanted people to think that he loved and respected himself as a man - maybe he jumped from the bridge because gay activists were forcing him to live a life that he didn't want and that he didn't agree with.

gay activists may be to blame for the dead homosexual. all people are not like chastity bono, some people actually take themselves and their genders seriously enough to overcome gender-issues by changing their minds through therapy rather than by changing their genders through surgery. the person who killed the gay "man" at rutgers is also dead and nobody can send him to prison. sending the roommate to prison for playing a college prank on a self-piteous, insecure and unstable drama-queen is just wrong...but what a curtain-call that drama-queen gave.

wasn't it mrs. clinton who said "I can't be responsible for every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America," as a response to charges that her plan would bankrupt businesses and cut employment?

we cant be responsible for an unstable drama-queen's actions

dylan terreri, i

"When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it." - Madonna

Jul. 17 2012 12:06 AM

Re the first line in your report: what does facy mean?

Feb. 24 2012 05:12 PM

From this perspective it certainly looks like Dharun Ravi intentionally and maliciously invaded the victim's privacy. Trying to alter the email and tweet record shows consciousness of guilt. But let's wait and see what the jury says.

Sadly, even belated justice will not bring Tyler back to life. And nothing will change the fact that Dharun Ravi disgraced himself in front of the world.

Feb. 24 2012 04:49 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

This guy is being prosecuted because he recorded and photographed what someone thought was a private and personal matter, then he made those recordings and photos available to others.

Instead of throwing him in prison, maybe he should be given a job at homeland security.

Our government records and photographs us in every possible way, sneaks inside our homes and goes through our panty drawers without us ever knowing, listens in on our phone calls, reads our e-mails and faxes, obviously for the sick, twisted perverted purpose of exciting themselves by doing something they know is wrong. They will take a simple comment like "I need to buy bananas," and turn it into a plot to overthrow the world. How many people are employed in the business of being voyeurs for the government? It's a secret. They won't tell us.

But this guy is going to prison. I don't get it. Either we have privacy in this country or we don't.

Feb. 24 2012 04:45 PM

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