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Atty: Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Didn’t Mean To Spy On Roommate Tyler Clemente

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Tyler Clementi (credit: Handout), Dharun Ravi (credit: Julio Cortez/AP)

Tyler Clementi (credit: Handout), Dharun Ravi (credit: Julio Cortez/AP)

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — There are new allegations in the case of a Rutgers student who committed suicide after he was recorded by his roommate.

In newly filed legal papers, that roommate’s lawyer says prosecutors got it all wrong and that the case should be dropped.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports: Growing Tension Between Roommates 

Dharun Ravi is accused of using his webcam to spy on a same-sex encounter between his roommate Tyler Clementi and another man.

Prosecutors say that spying led to Clementi killing himself last September when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

But Ravi’s defense lawyer Steven Altman said in a brief filed Wednesday that his client was not spying on Clementi.

Altman said Ravi initially turned on his webcam from a friend’s computer to see what was going on in the dorm room because he was concerned about whether the man Clementi had over might steal Ravi’s iPad. He stopped watching “two seconds” after seeing the men kissing, Altman said.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Documents Show Guilt-Ridden Ravi

Altman provided text messages that he said Ravi sent Clementi on September 22, about the time the 18-year-old violinist from Ridgewood was on the George Washington Bridge.

“I turned on my camera and saw you in the corner of the screen and I immediately closed it. I felt uncomfortable and guilty of what happened,” the message said. “Obviously, I told people what occurred so they could give me advice. Then Tuesday when you requested the room again I wanted to make sure what happened Sunday wouldn’t happen again … I turned my camera away and put my computer to sleep so even if anyone tried it wouldn’t work. I wanted to make amends for Sunday night. I’m sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing but I assure you all my actions were good natured.”

Another said, in part: “I’ve known you were gay and I have no problem with it.”

Ravi’s lawyers also argued that prosecutors did not present evidence that Ravi would have broken the law by using a webcam to monitor what was happening in the dorm room he shared with Clementi, that he actually viewed any sexual images from his webcam, that he copied or distributed them, or that he deleted Twitter posts about what was on the webcam to hide evidence from investigators.

Ravi’s lawyer also accused prosecutors of withholding evidence from the grand jury, claiming prosecutors may have even misled the jurors.

Altman asked the court to force prosecutors to hand over more information if the case goes forward, including the full name and address of the man with whom Clementi had an encounter. He’s been listed in legal papers only as “M.B.”

The Middlesex County district attorney had no comment.

Another student, Molly Wei, was also charged in the case. Wei accepted a plea deal and entered a pre-trial intervention program, which will allow for the criminal charges against her to be dropped if she upholds her end of the agreement. That could include her testimony against Ravi.

Ravi faces charges including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.

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(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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