Prosecution Rests Case In Rutgers Webcam Spying Trial
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Prosecutors have rested their case in the trial of a former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s intimate encounter with another man.
Lawyers for Dharun Ravi are expected to present an investigator and several character witnesses starting Friday. They’ll also have to decide whether Ravi will take the stand. If he testifies, it won’t be until at least Monday.
Ravi, now 20, is charged with 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and several crimes related to trying to cover up his actions.
Ravi is not charged with Clementi’s death, though in many ways the suicide lies at the heart of the case.
The prosecution has called about 20 witnesses so far in ten days of testimony.
On Wednesday, they put on the witness stand a detective who interviewed Ravi on Sept. 23, 2010 after Clementi was believed dead but before Ravi was charged.
Jurors saw the nearly hour-long video of the interrogation.
Police asked Ravi about his use of the webcam to allegedly spy on Clementi during his romantic encounter with another man.
The investigator, Michael Daniewicz, repeatedly accused Ravi of lying about details. And Ravi, for his part, agreed that he had violated his roommate’s privacy by going to a friend’s room and using her computer to view images from his own webcam, which he had set up to accept webchat requests automatically.
Investigator: “Is it safe to say you were invading his privacy?”
Ravi: “It is my room also.”
Investigator: “Did you violate this man’s privacy?”
He said he did not see anything graphic and turned the stream off as soon as he realized what was going on.
“I didn’t realize it was something so private,” he said. “It was my room, too.”
He said he sent a Twitter post about what he saw, later, “daring” people to videochat with him two days later during the hours when Clementi had requested the room again.
But he said that he didn’t mean it.
“I said that sarcastically, first of all,” he said, continuing that he did not want people to watch the feed. Jurors had heard in earlier testimony, though, that Clementi visited Ravi’s Twitter page 38 times in the two days before he killed himself and saved a screenshot of that tweet.
But Ravi said in the interview that he took steps to keep others from viewing the second dorm-room liaison. “And I turned off my computer,” he said. “I put it to sleep.”
“Regardless of what I said my computer wasn’t accessible,” he said.
Ravi explained that he was also joking when he texted a friend that other Rutgers students were having a “viewing party” to watch the stream.
Ravi said he wanted to protect his roommate. “I’m not trying to hero myself,” he told the officer.
Clementi’s mother tried to hold back tears as the video was played for jurors in court.
Ravi was arrested days after the interview and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, saying he was using the webcam to keep an eye on his belongings.
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