Jury Won’t Hear Why Tyler Clementi Wanted Room Change
(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) — A jury will not be allowed to hear Rutgers student Tyler Clementi’s complaint to the university that his roommate used a webcam to spy on him, a judge ruled on Monday.
The complaint was included in Tyler Clementi’s request for a dorm room change after he twice caught roommate Dahrun Ravi watching him while on a gay date.
Clementi listed his reason for wanting a different dorm room as: “Roommate with webcam spying on me/want a single room.”
Ravi, 19, is accused of using his webcam to spy on Clementi’s two gay trysts in the dorm room they shared at Rutgers in September 2010. He is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest.
Clementi, 18, killed himself by leaping off the George Washington Bridge a few days after Ravi spied on him. His death became the focal point for a national campaign to stop cyber-bullying and homophobic bullying among students.
Prosecutor Julie McClure, who has called Ravi’s actions “malicious, purposeful, and criminal,” claimed on Monday that the online request showed that Clementi knew about the spying and felt intimidated by Ravi. McClure said in the first day of the trial that Ravi targeted Clementi because he was gay.
Defense attorneys Steven Altman and Philip Nettl argued against admitting the reason for Clementi’s room change request — “Roommate with webcam spying on me” — into evidence, saying it was hearsay that was unreliable. The statement may or may not have been authored by Clementi himself, and was not investigated by the university at the time of the request to be true, Altman argued.
The judge ruled that the part of the statement in which Clementi accuses Ravi of spying could not be admitted.
The debate over evidence came midway through the morning testimony of witnesses called by the prosecution, including two students who saw or heard about the webcam incident from Ravi.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio