Molly Wei ‘Overwhelmed’ When Told Of Clementi’s Suicide
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A star prosecution witness in the webcam spying trial of a former Rutgers University student says she never recorded or broadcast video of a student having an intimate encounter with another man.
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Wei, who is also a former Rutgers student, told jurors Tuesday that she only saw live streaming video of Clementi and another man in the door he shared with Ravi back in September 2010.
Prosecutors allege Ravi spied on Clementi and the other man using a desk top camera he had in the room to deliberately expose Clementi’s sexual orientation.
Days later, Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Wei testified about when she was told of Clementi’s suicide by campus police, the first time his death has been mentioned in court during the trial.
“At the end of the conversation, the police officers told me that Tyler was missing and that he had possibly committed suicide,” she said. “I was overwhelmed, very sad and I felt very bad if anything had happened.”
Wei said a few days later, she went to police again when she learned that Ravi had sent Twitter messages inviting followers to watch a second live stream of Clementi when he wanted the room again to himself.
“I was very surprised because my friends brought it up and I had no idea how they knew,” she told jurors. “Finally they told me of these tweets that they received on Tuesday about him trying to have a viewing party, things like that.”
Wei said she was then arrested after telling authorities about the Twitter messages and charged with invasion of privacy.
Under cross-examination, Ravi’s attorney questioned Wei about her testimony and when she saw police at Ravi’s door in the dorm.
“Did he give you instructions or ask you to delete anything that you might have had on your cell phone based upon texts that he sent you earlier,” asked defense attorney Steven Altman.
“No,” Wei replied.
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On Monday, Wei testified that she and the defendant had initially agreed not to tell anyone about what they saw on the webcam.
“First of all, it was shocking. It felt wrong. We didn’t expect to see that. And now that what we did, it was like we shouldn’t have seen it,” Wei said. “We didn’t want people to know what had happened.”
But she said that within minutes, she and Ravi were chatting with friends online about seeing the two men kissing and within an hour, she had agreed to show a few seconds of the streaming video to four others who came to her dorm room.
Both times Wei said she only saw a few seconds of the stream.
“It was the exact same image except that they had taken their tops off,” she said, describing the second time she viewed the video with other students in the room. “As soon as they saw it, I turned it off.”
Prosecutors say that Clementi suspected he was being watched and reported it to the university and that’s when Wei said she was questioned by campus police.
But Wei said Monday there was never a plan to intimidate or humiliate Clementi.
After Wei left the courtroom, a second student, Alissa Agarwal, told jurors about Ravi’s tweets police pulled from her cell phone.
“I went to my friend’s Molly’s and turned on the webcam. I saw my roommate making out with a dude, yay,” Agarwal read. “Anyone who has iChat I dare you to chat between 9 and 12…yes it’s happening again.”
Under cross-examination, witnesses testified Ravi wasn’t trying to expose Clementi.
“Did he ever express to you or anybody while you were around any hate for Tyler?” Altman asked.
“Absolutely not,” Agarwal answered.
Though Wei was initially charged in the case, she accepted a deal last year to avoid jail time and potentially a criminal record. She had to enter a pre-trial intervention program and agree to cooperate in the case against Ravi, among other conditions.
Ravi faces 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, the most serious charge. In order to convict Ravi of bias intimidation, prosecutors must persuade jurors that he acted out of bias toward gays.
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