A man allegedly secretly filmed kissing a gay US student, days before he committed suicide, has told jurors that he noticed a webcam in the university dormitory room.
‘I had just glanced over my shoulder and I noticed there was a webcam that was faced toward the direction of the bed,’ the man, identified only by the initials M.B., said in court on Friday (2 March), ‘Just being in a compromising position and seeing a camera lens – it just stuck out to me.’
M.B., now 32, later noted that there was no light indicating it was on, but noticed students looking at him as he left the building that night after having sex with Tyler Clementi. He described the experience as ‘unsettling’.
The 18 year-old Rugters University student jumped to his death from a New Jersey bridge in September 2010, after learning his roommate Dharun Ravi secretly watched M.B. and himself kissing.
M.B. testified that he had met Clementi in August that year through a social networking site for gay men and they first met in person a month after.
The two of them had their third and final rendezvous, two nights after the alleged spying. M.B. said he had wanted to see Clementi again and texted ‘every single day’, only to learn of his suicide from a newspaper later on.
Ravi is charged with bias intimidation, which is a hate crime. Together with invasion of privacy, he could face up to 10 years in prison, although prosecutors must prove he acted out of anti-gay sentiment, the BBC said.
Ravi’s attorney admitted his client did something that wasn't very bright, but insisted the 20-year-old broke no laws, GSN reported earlier.
Ravi’s friends argued earlier that Ravi was alarmed by M.B.’s scruffy appearance, but media footages, bounded by court orders, focused only on his hands, showing a clean-shaven man, with a stocky build and neatly cut black hair, reported Reuters.
Although the case has been part of the national conversation on gay teen suicide, the issues have become murkier over the past 17 months. Ravi's friends insisted he harbored no anti-gay feelings, while Clementi was out and comfortable enough to seek sexual partners.
Ian Parker of New Yorker wrote last month that the charges against Ravi are not connected to what he actually did, noting the enduring false belief that he was responsible for outing Clementi, and for putting a sex tape on the Internet, can be seen as a collective effort to ‘balance a terrible event with a terrible cause’.