Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, New Jersey Public Radio
Nancy Solomon is the Managing Editor of New Jersey Public Radio.
A friend says a former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate's intimate encounter with another man told her there was going to be a "viewing party" to watch the liaison.
Dharun Ravi sent a text message to a friend about a webcam viewing party with “Baccardi and beer” on Sept.21, 2010, the night before his roommate Tyler Clementi killed himself.
The text was sent to Michelle Huang, a high school friend of Ravi who attends Cornell University. Huang testified Monday in the Rutgers webcam spying trial.
Ravi is charged with several counts of invasion of privacy, hindering an investigation and bias intimidation, a hate crime that carries a 10-year sentence.
“OMFG, people are having a viewing party with a bottle of Baccardi and beer in this kid’s room for my roommate,” he said via text message to Huang.
Ravi had sent out a tweet saying his roommate had asked for use of his room and dared his Twitter followers to connect to his video chat account to see the roommate and his male lover.
“He was older and creepy and [definitely] from the internet,” Ravi texted.
When Huang suggested the older gay man may visit Ravi while he sleeps, Ravi replied “omg, everyone keeps telling me that” and then explained that he had a computer alert system set up to detect if anyone got on his bed when he wasn’t there. He went on to say “my webcam checks my bed. Hahah. I got so creeped out after Sunday.”
Huang replied “that’s so cool” and Ravi then quipped “yeah, keeps the gays away.”
Ravi’s defense attorney, Steven Altman, asked Huang if they were joking, and she said yes.
“Referring to your comment, ‘watch out, he might come for you when you’re sleeping’ did you understand that people were kidding around and joking with Dharun?” Altman asked Huang. Again, she replied yes.
Ravi’s state of mind is a key component of the defense strategy. To be found guilty of the most serious charge, bias intimidation, the prosecution must show that he targeted Clementi specifically because of his sexual orientation and that he did it to shame or hurt him in some way.
After Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge, Ravi sent out tweets and texts that contradicted those he had sent out days before. Huang asked him about the webcam viewing party, and he texted a message that said he had made it up.
With the Associated Press