Resident Assistant Testifies In Rutgers Webcam Spying Trial
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A resident assistant who prosecutors say Tyler Clementi confided in right before committing suicide took the stand Wednesday in the trial of Clementi’s former college roommate, Dharun Ravi.
Prosecutors said Clementi asked Raahi Grover for a room change after finding out Ravi was allegedly spying on him with a webcam.
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“I asked him to write, send me an e-mail to me describing the incident, referencing whatever needed to be referenced,” Grover told jurors.
Grover said he got an e-mail from Clementi on Sept. 22, 2010, a day after prosecutors say Clementi pulled the plug on the webcam Ravi had set up in their dorm room. It was allegedly Ravi’s second attempt after capturing Clementi on video two days earlier having an intimate encounter with another man.
Grover said Wednesday that Clementi seemed uncomfortable when he came to see him and said he filed a report to university officials about it. Judge Glenn Berman, however, ruled that the overwhelming majority of Clementi’s own words were inadmissible.
Defense lawyers wanted to exclude the e-mail Grover wrote about what he observed and heard from Clementi. The judge largely limited Grover to just describing his own observations of Clementi.
“Tyler is quite upset and feels uncomfortable. Tyler prefers a roommate switch asap. I would like to see some sort of punishment for Dharun Ravi,” read Judge Glenn Berman. “That’s admissible.”
“I feel my privacy has been violated. I am extremely uncomfortable sharing a room with someone who acts in this manner,” read Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure.
When asked by Ravi’s lawyer, Steve Altman, if his client ever told him he didn’t like gay people and when asked if Ravi communicated that he didn’t like Clementi because he was gay, Grover answered “no.”
There were also other twists and turns as a witness for the prosecution, Lokesh Ohja, said he helped Ravi set up the webcam to capture Clementi making out with another man. He also admitted to initially lying to prosecutors.
“I was a freshman, I just came to college and I thought my college career was over,” Ohja said.
Prosecutors allege that Clementi jumped to his death in 2010 because his sexual orientation was exposed, and read an e-mail in court that they said was written by Clementi.
Meanwhile, the man seen in the video with Clementi, known only as “M.B.,”could testify in the case as early as Wednesday.
Little is known about M.B. from court filings, but witnesses have described him as a “sketchy” man around 30 years old.
His attorney said every effort is being made to conceal his identity, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported. He also said he knew Clementi for a short time and was devastated to find out about his death.
When the man takes the stand, it could mark the highest-profile testimony in the case.
WATCH: CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reports
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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