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Friend Testifies Dharun Ravi Planned Webcam “Viewing Party” of Tyler
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In a testimony that came as a revelation in the trial of former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, a high school friend testified on Monday that Ravi had sent her text messages to watch a “viewing party” of his roommate Tyler Clementi, who later committed suicide.

The witness, Michelle Huang, a Cornell University student said Ravi sent her the text message on Sept. 21, 2010. Tyler Clementi jumped to his death on Sept. 22, 2010. Tyler’s suicide has sparked off a national debate on the social adversities faced by young gay people.

Though witnesses have testified that the webcam was not working on the night of Sept. 21, Douglas Rager, former university police detective testified later on Monday that when he went to inspect the room on September 23, after Tyler’s death, Ravi’s webcam was “angled directly at Tyler’s bed.”

  
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Huang said to the court that Ravi had texted her “Do it for real … I have it pointed at his bed.” The text message was shown to jurors.

Dharun Ravi has been charged under 15 criminal counts including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and charges of covering evidence. However, there has been no charge that covers humiliation leading to suicide. Though prosecutors have tried to show that Ravi had been humiliating Clementi, no mens rea leading to the death has been established.

In fact the court has been strict in not mixing up issues and has precluded prosecutors from linking the spying allegations with the suicide. At the same time Defense lawyers are precluded from trying to make a case that Clementi killed himself for other reasons.

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Judge Glenn Berman was clearly apprehensive that mixing issues would lead to convolutions and delays of the process. He was clear that the matter of Clementi’s death could not form a focus in the instant case before the court in as much as Dharun Ravi has not been charged with the death of Clementi.

“My preference is we don’t talk about it,” said the judge.



The man who was seen on the webstream kissing Clementi took the stand on Monday and when asked how late he intended to stay in Clementi’s room on September 21, he said “There was every reason to believe that I was going to see him again.”

Reports say that Clementi left a final Facebook status before committing suicide that said, “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.” A Rutgers police officer told the court that he was dispatched to Clementi’s room to determine his whereabouts about an hour after the posting of the message.

After Huang’s testimony and the cross-examination of Ravi’s lawyer, Middlesex County First Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure told the court that she may need to recall some earlier witnesses to learn about conversations with Ravi about the suicide.

Experts hold that the lack of testimony about Clementi’s death are creating gaps both in the case and the storyline and making it tough to make conclusions.



 

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