Closing Arguments End In Rutgers Spycam Trial; Jury To Decide Dharun Ravi’s Fate

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Closing arguments have wrapped in the trial of former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, who is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate kissing another man in their dorm room.

Ravi’s roommate Tyler Clementi committed suicide on Sept. 22, 2010.

The jury will start deliberating Wednesday. Ravi is charged with bias intimidation as a hate crime, invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension. However, he is not being charged in connection with the death of Clementi.

If convicted of the most serious charge, bias intimidation, Ravi could spend up to 10 years in prison. Ravi can be convicted of intimidation if he’s also found guilty of an underlying invasion-of-privacy charge.

During closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Steven Altman told the jury there’s no evidence to show Ravi used a webcam to spy on Clementi making out with another man, or that he did it to expose Clementi’s homosexuality, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

In the second half of his closing argument, Altman told jurors that Clementi wasn’t intimidated because he continued with his plans to have an encounter with the other man known as “M.B.” even after discovering Ravi’s Twitter messages.

“We know he was consciously aware of the Twitter message that was sent out,” Altman said. “Would you not think that’s enough to say ‘I’m not doing this.’ Would anybody who is being intimidated, scared, in fear, concerned with their privacy continue with any behavior when he knows his privacy is perhaps going to be violated?”

Earlier Tuesday morning, Altman said Ravi was surprised to turn on his webcam and see his roommate in an intimate situation with another man.

He emphasized that there was no recording, no broadcast and no YouTube video of the encounter.

Altman then pleaded with the jury to make the distinction between a young man’s mistake and criminal intent.

“Was it as you might very well expect a typical 18-year-old, or kid, to react? Or was his reaction criminal? Did it rise to the level of a crime?” Altman asked the jury. “That’s why you’re here. That’s what you’ve got to decide.”

Altman also attempted to make it clear that his client has no bias against homosexuals.

“If [Ravi] has this hate for gays, such concern about his roommate, wouldn’t you think you would have heard of something between August 21 and the middle of September?” Altman asked. “No text messages to anybody, no tweets.”

The defense rested Monday without calling Ravi to the stand.  Prosecutors said Ravi wanted to expose Clementi’s homosexuality and tweeted — daring others to watch the encounter.

Clementi allegedly pulled the plug on the camera after seeing the tweet, Sloan reported.

During the 12 days of testimony in the trial, jurors heard from about 30 witnesses. They did not hear testimony from Ravi himself, though they did see video of a statement he gave to police.

There’s no dispute that Ravi saw a brief snippet of video streamed live from his webcam to the laptop of a friend in her dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.

The friend, Molly Wei, said Clementi and “M.B.” were fully clothed and kissing at the time.

Ravi posted a Twitter message that night that concluded: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Later, Wei showed some other students. They said the men had removed their shirts, and that the web stream was turned off after mere seconds. Wei was initially charged, but later entered a pretrial intervention program that could allow her to avoid jail time and a criminal record if she complies with a list of conditions.

Two days after the first incident, Clementi asked for the room alone again. This time, Ravi tweeted: “Yes, it’s happening again” and “dared” followers to connect with his computer to video chat. There was testimony that he told one friend that there was going to be a “viewing party” at Rutgers.

But there was no webcast. Ravi’s lawyers say it’s because he disabled his computer before Clementi had “M.B.” over. And witnesses placed Ravi at Ultimate Frisbee practice for most of the time he was asked to stay away from his room.

The challenge for jurors could be deciding whether the laws apply to what Ravi is alleged to have done.

One of the invasion-of-privacy charges accuses Ravi of viewing exposed private parts or sex acts, or a situation where someone might reasonably expect to see them.

Another accuses him of recording or disseminating the images to others. There’s no evidence that the web stream was recorded, and witnesses said Ravi wasn’t there when Wei opened the web stream for other students.

Each of those charges says Ravi committed invasion of privacy, or attempted to, out of malice toward gays or that Clementi believed he was targeted because of his sexuality.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 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.)

  • David Ruffin

    Ravi is going to be found guilty. He tried to embarrass and humiliate his roommate. Don’t think he would have done the same thing if his roommate was straight. Tyler was a troubled soul. Very troubled. We are living in NJ/NY, not some hick town out in middle America. Love and support and open minded people were all around him, yet he chose to jump off a bridge. What Ravi did must be disassociated from Tyler’s act – and supposedly it is, legally. But if Tyler hadn’t committed suicide, there would be no Ravi trial, you can be sure of that. The whole story is sad, strange, tragic.

  • PETE

    Ravi was caught in a cross-fire. What was originally thought to be a prank turned out to become a tragedy for both of them. This I firmly believe was not intended at all. Ravi, I am sure, has learned a lesson for life to respect other people with other lifestyles. Clementi was a walking time bomb, and he would have gone off probably less dramatically some other time, as he knew quite well that it was not easy to be a practicing homo amongst straight people.

    • Justice4Tyler

      Would you say the same thing if it was your kid that this happened to? Or had it been someone you loved?

      Prank or no prank, his actions have had dire consequences. You do not know much about Clementi’s background so you have hardly any base to say he was a walking time bomb. It is pretty safe to say that this “prank”, as you labeled it, traumatized him and caused him a great deal of emotional pain. It likely caused him deep depression, which, in turn, he took his life.

      Our actions against others, prank or not, intended to be harmful or harmless, can have dire consequences on that person. It’s like fraternities hazing their new members and one of them ends up dead. It was just a prank, right? It was not intended, right?

      • littlestar

        Ok. But ten Years ?

      • StupidCase

        First you say: “You do not know much about Clementi’s background so you have hardly any base to say he was a walking time bomb”

        Then you say: “It is pretty safe to say that this “prank”, as you labeled it, traumatized him and caused him a great deal of emotional pain. It likely caused him deep depression, which, in turn, he took his life”

        So you say that he’s wrong because he doesn’t know TC’s background but then say it’s safe to say that that caused him deep depression?

        Hypocrisy. You have no logic.

        • Justice4Tyler

          Well, smart guy, why else do you think he jumped off the bridge just shortly after this incident happened? You didn’t closely read what Pete wrote or what I wrote. The boy requested a room change shortly after the spying. Prank or no prank this had serious consequences for both of them. It should be a huge wake up call to anyone who enjoys pranking and bullying others.

          • tomnj

            If Tyler would have shot the guy with the camera instead of committing suicide, would he be responsible for his actions and be charged with murder? Why is it when we hurt ourselves we blame others but if we hurt others we blame ourselves? Tyler is responsible for the suicide, the other kid should get some sort of punishment for the prank, but lets keep things in proper perspective.

            • Liane

              Tom is right. What Dharun Ravi did was ignorant and terrible. I believe he should, and will be, convicted of invasion of privacy. He spied on his roommate and tried to televise it. Just stupid, ridiculous, without-boundaries behavior.

              Tyler’s mother had not been easy on him. He probably thought he’d left the worst behind when he moved away from home and high school, and then this even happened. He tried to switch rooms, but he killed himself before he could even get a new roommate. People do not take their lives over one incident. People who aren’t in a very dark place do not take their lives. He had other things going on. His roommate was an @ss but did not intend to see Tyler die.

              Ravi should be punished for invading someone’s privacy. I don’t think he hated Tyler, wanted to see him die, or even wanted to harm him. He did a terrible, thoughtless thing that had horrible consequences that nobody foresaw. But punish him for what he did and not to make him a symbol.

  • WebMaster

    Why isn’t this trial broadcasted via webcam so everyone can see it live?

    • littlestar

      Vomit. OJ.

    • StupidCase

      It has been broadcasted live.

  • D Joe

    wipe that stupid smile out of your face kid, you may becomes someones girlfriend soon when you go to jail.

  • lieutenantdan

    I believe that privacy had been invaded and I believe that Ravi did not know that he was breaking the law but Ravi should not be held accountable for the suicide.
    I speculate that a person who commits suicide had been feeling ill for a long time and maybe this started in childhood. I speculate that this young man would have eventually killed himself somewhere down on the road of life. He was obviously troubled.
    It is a tough world.

    • Justice4Tyler

      Yeah, true, but this action could have really traumatized him so badly that he felt this was the only way out.

    • max

      They are not holding him responsible for the suicide
      If so the charges would be murder or manslaughter

    • littlestar

      A liberal lynch mob in the flesh.

    • StupidCase

      invasion of privacy dictates that he must see something sexual.

      all dharun ravi saw was 2 backs of fully clothed males embracing. he didn’t even see actual kissing, just inferred it.

      this to, it was for 2-5 seconds. legally, no invasion of privacy.

      • Michael H.

        What law are you referencing? What law dictates that something sexual must be seen?

      • Liane

        You could read someone’s e-mail by breaking into their yahoo, not read anything sexual at all, and still be charged with invasion of privacy.

        Someone did not go to law school, I see.

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