Rutgers Defense Ends With Dharun Ravi’s Own Words, Demeanor
(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) — The final word in defense of Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, accused of spying on his roommate Tyler Clementi during a gay sexual encounter, came from Ravi himself, as his police interview tape was replayed in the closing salvo of the defense’s summation Tuesday.
Though Ravi never took the stand during his trial, defense attorney Steven Altman directed the jury’s attention to the video to watch Ravi’s demeanor and listen to his words as he admits he peeked at the date, but then immediately stopped watching and did not do it again.
Ravi, 20, is on trial for allegedly invading Clementi’s privacy after he activated a webcam and saw Clementi having a gay sexual encounter in their shared Rutgers dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi is accused of telling others about the webcam spying, and encouraging them to also watch during a subsequent Clementi date on Sept. 21.
In addition, Ravi is charged with bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest.
Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman, killed himself just days after the spying incident by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His death and the charges against Ravi sparked public outrage over cyber-bullying and gay bullying among students.
Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi’s death. Clementi left behind a note, but its contents have never been made public.
During a four-hour closing argument in court Tuesday, Altman portrayed Ravi as an immature college freshman, not a bigoted bully.
“Why we’re here is because on Sept. 19, and Sept. 21, 2010, an 18-year-old boy, a kid, a college freshman, had an experience, had an encounter that he wasn’t ready for,” Altman told the jury.
He told the jury they would have to decide whether Ravi’s reaction was because “he was hateful and he was biased, and ugly and anti-gay and he hated his roommate,” or whether he was “stupid, he’s ignorant, maybe immature and a typical 18-year-old kid. Or is his reaction criminal.”
On Wednesday, Judge Glenn Berman is scheduled to give the jury instructions and let them begin deliberations.
Ravi could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
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