Witness: NJ Student Suggested Others Watch Clementi Webcast

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Rutgers University student said a former dorm-mate who is charged with using a webcam to spy on his roommate encouraged her and other students to tune in.

Alissa Agarwal told jurors on Tuesday that she remembers defendant Dharun Ravi sending a Twitter message daring friends to try to video chat with him the night his roommate asked to have their room to himself.

Agarwal said Ravi went to her room and showed her how his camera was set up to show his roommate's side of his room.

Ravi is on trial for invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and hindering an investigation in connection with two incidents in which he used a computer webcam to watch his roommate in an intimate encounter with a man.

Earlier Tuesday, co-defendant Molly Wei, who pleaded guilty, finished her testimony, showing more emotion than the day before.

Wei agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for no jail time, community service, and her testimony.

Her second day of testimony focused on her interviews with the police and when she was charged with the crimes. It was the first time she became emotional, when she recounted when she first learned from police that Ravi’s roommate, Tyler Clementi, may have committed suicide.

“I was sad, overwhelmed, I felt very bad if anything had happened,” Wei said. “I was just overwhelmed with emotions of sadness and I just felt so bad for what happened that I was just… I wanted to be with my parents."

Later in the day, Agarwal, testified about the second alleged incident of spying, that came just the day before Clemente killed himself.

Agarwal lived on the same dorm floor as Ravi and Clemente and was friends with Ravi. She was called by the prosecution to testify that about a tweet from Ravi.

“Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12 yes it’s happening again," the tweet read.

Agarwal told the jury that after dinner that night, Ravi was encouraging a group of friends to video chat him that night, the second night of alleged webcam spying.

“He was hypng it up,” Agarwal said.

But on cross examination, she told defense attorney Steven Altman that Ravi never said anything homophobic.

“Do you have memory of him coming into your room and him telling you that he hated his roommate?” Altman asked.

“Never,” Agarwal answered.


Comments [6]


Does it even matter if Ravi was homophobic? The crime was spying not homophobia. If he watched Clementi have sex with a hooker or some longterm girlfriend it would have been just as wrong.

Feb. 28 2012 03:30 PM
sandy from singapore

Clementi should lived on as he did no wrong, Ravi is sick and dangerous to society. He has no respect for privacy, shame on him.

Feb. 28 2012 03:24 PM

Please read Ian Parker's in-depth piece in the Feb. 6 New Yorker. Everyone should know how this poor boy felt as a result of the incomprehensible lack of empathy of Ravi and the other students who participated. As a gay kid, I thought about suicide daily when I was in high school. It isn't rare.

Feb. 28 2012 01:43 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

...also, hate doesn't only manifest in overt, bigoted, abusive language.
Hopefully we'll break through on this.

Feb. 28 2012 01:40 PM
Suzinne from Bronx

I hope w/ all my heart and soul that this Ravi get 10 hard years in the State Penn. Aside from the folly he enjoyed by cruelly humiliating his roommate Tyler Clementi, he showed the height of arrogance by rejecting a plea deal (which would have given him a mere slap on the wrist) because he doesn't believe he's done anything wrong!

Where can I watch this by the way?

Feb. 28 2012 01:05 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

Ravi issued an APB for friends to come view his roommate "kissing a man", not an "older man". And even IF the viewers were "scandalized" at that man's age, it doesn't mean they weren't "scandalized" by his gender, which, of course, they were...In any case, it was spying and it was mean spirited. Again,

If Dharun was so concerned about Tyler's "older" male friend (I also read he described him as something like "scruffy"), then there must have been some Rutger's policy on roommate company that he should have known and could have leveraged.

In any case, If I'm going to surveil out of concern about my property for unfounded reasons, then I'm pointing the cam AT MY PROPERTY and not at unsuspecting inhabitants, because I'd KNOW this would be spying on them.

Apparently, Dharun has a history of using technology to spy on human beings. It seems clear that he was spying, especially when he invited his friends to join in, and did it a second time -- after his property went unharmed and knowing what he'd see.

He also displayed an inclination to deride poor/"scruffy" people and gay people. Here, his devaluing of these people seems to have manifested in a willingness to humiliate them.

Hopefully, this case will address these issues and, in so doing, (1) help establish needed boundaries for tech privacy and (2) underscore how HATE DOESN'T ONLY MANIFEST IN PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, but includes the derision, social alienation and humiliation that is so very painful and too often fatal.

Feb. 28 2012 11:05 AM

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