Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, New Jersey Public Radio
Nancy Solomon is the Managing Editor of New Jersey Public Radio.
The prosecution in the Rutgers webcam spying trial played a video on Wednesday of the defendant, Dharun Ravi, speaking with investigators the day after Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
Michael Daniewicz, the investigator for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, grilled the then 18-year-old Ravi for 50 minutes before Ravi’s father arrived and asked that the interview stop until he could have a lawyer present.
During the interview, Ravi first explains to Daniewicz that he accidentally saw Clementi kissing a man on September 19, 2010, and quickly shut the laptop in his friend’s dorm room. When Clementi asked for the room again, two days later, he tells the investigator he did everything he could to make sure no one would log into his video chat account.
But Daniewicz had copies of Ravi’s tweets and texts, which told a different story.
“Those are mistakes you couldn’t foresee, but now you need to be truthful, and I’ll tell you why, we’ve spoken to Molly. We know you deliberately set this up,” Daniewicz told Ravi on the video tape.
Ravi said he turned on his webcam only to see if his iPad was being stolen. The two go back and forth on the video.
“Did you violate this man’s privacy?” the investigator asked.
“Yes, I did,” Ravi replied, about 30 minutes into the interview.
“And you did it deliberately,” Daniewicz said.
“No, I didn’t do it deliberately,” Ravi said. “Do you want me to show the text conversation between you and Molly where you ask her if she told the police that we did it on purpose?”
"Do you want me to show the text conversation between you and Molly where you ask her if she told the police that we did it on purpose?" Daniewicz asked him.
On the tape, Ravi persists for a little bit and then makes an admission when asked if he chose to spy on Clementi with the webcam from Wei’s room.
“Yeah,” Ravi said. He then admitted he saw something private, Clementi being intimate with another person, and that he shared it with the public.
In other testimony Wednesday, a text was revealed in which Ravi apologized to Clementi. It might have reached Clementi just before he committed suicide. Ravi told investigators he wrote the text after speaking with the dorm counselor, who confronted him because Clementi complained about the webcam spying and asked for a room change.
In the text, he said it was an accident and that he tried to stop people from viewing his iChat account.
“I'm sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing but I assure you all my actions were good natured,” Ravi wrote in the text. “I've known you were gay and I have no problem with it. In fact one of my closest friends is gay and he and I have a very open relationship.”
The prosecutor will call one more witness to the stand on Thursday morning. Then it will be the defense’s turn to present its case.
Ravi, now 20, faces 15 criminal charges, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and tampering with evidence and a witness.