Clementi’s Lover: I Noticed The Webcam Pointed at the Bed
A man who witnesses say was watched via webcam while kissing Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who later committed suicide took the stand Friday, telling jurors he noticed the webcam while the two were being intimate.
“I had just glanced over my shoulder and I noticed there was a webcam that was faced toward the direction of the bed,” said the man, identified only by the initials M.B.
“Just being in a compromising position and seeing a camera lens — it just stuck out to me.”
The man testified that he had met Tyler Clementi in August 2010 through a social networking site for gay men. They chatted online initially, he said, and their first in-person meeting was in Clementi’s dorm room on Sept. 16 — three days before the alleged spying. Clementi killed himself days later.
The man’s testimony came in the trial of Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, who is charged with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other crimes.
The man told jurors there were about five students looking at him as he left the building on Sept. 19.
“Had they been in the street or somewhere other than this building I would have asked them why they were looking at me,” he said. He called their actions “unsettling.”
On Thursday, jurors heard testimony from a Rutgers police officer who said that he knocked on the door of a dorm room shortly before 10 p.m. on Sept. 22 for a well-being check on Clementi.
Officer Krzysztof Kowalczyk testified the other freshman who lived in the cramped room answered and said that when he’d last seen Clementi five hours earlier, everything was normal.
Prosecutors appear to be using Kowalczyk’s testimony, which lasted less than 45 minutes, to lay groundwork to show there was a cover-up.
The jury hasn’t yet heard a timeline that is laid out in legal filings but which might help the prosecution’s case.
According to those documents, Clementi posted to Facebook at 8:42 p.m.: “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.” After that, he jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
And Ravi sent Clementi long text messages at 8:46 p.m. and then 10 minutes later describing the use of his webcam as “a petty misunderstanding.”
Kowalczyk said Ravi didn’t mention anything about that — just that he saw Clementi at about 4:30 p.m. when his roommate finished the day’s classes and dropped off his book bag in the room.
The officer, who didn’t say what led to his being dispatched to the dorm room at 9:46 p.m., said Ravi did volunteer one other piece of information: “He had stated that an individual had stayed in the dorm room with Tyler a couple days prior,” Kowalczyk said.
Prosecutor Julia McClure asked if Ravi mentioned that the guest came back the night before the officer came to the door. He hadn’t, Kowalczyk said.
Authorities say Ravi used a webcam to spy on the man’s first visit and attempted to do so again on the second. Witnesses have said only seconds of the streaming video was viewed and that it included nothing more graphic than two shirtless men kissing.
Kowalczyk’s testimony suggested that Ravi didn’t bring up another matter: A dorm resident assistant had testified that he spoke with Ravi earlier on Sept. 22 on Clementi’s request to change rooms.
Prosecutors also interviewed a university administrator who said that she looked at Ravi’s Twitter posts the morning of Sept. 23 — the day after Clementi went missing.
Most of the prosecution’s witnesses so far have been other college students who have testified that they heard about the streamed video.
Ravi faces 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)