A former Rutgers University student spied on his roommate because he thought the student, who eventually committed suicide, was gay, New Jersey prosecutors say.
Prosecutor Julia McClure urged jurors Tuesday to consider Dharun Ravi’s actions when he allegedly spied on his roommate via a webcam and told friends through Twitter, instant messages and text messages he had seen the other student kissing a male guest in September 2010, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.
McClure said Ravi, who no longer attends Rutgers, had told people in the dorm he suspected roommate Tyler Clementi was gay.
“It wasn’t what [Ravi] wanted his college experience to be,” McClure said. “He didn’t want to have a gay roommate. He didn’t like that he had a gay roommate.”
McClure said “that information and that mindset was what drove his escalating and deliberative acts.”
Clementi committed suicide by jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge Sept. 22, 2010, after learning Ravi and other students had used a webcam to view him being intimate with another man.
Ravi faces 15 charges, including bias intimidation as a hate crime, tampering with evidence and a witness, and invasion of privacy.
Evidence from Clementi’s computer revealed he had viewed Ravi’s Twitter page dozens of times before his suicide and saved screen shots of postings about him, including one Ravi sent followers saying he had seen his roommate “making out with a dude.”
“Three weeks into his college experience and [Clementi] finds out that his sexual orientation has been broadcast to the defendant’s Twitter followers. He finds out that his private sexual activity has been exposed,” McClure said. “What do you think he’s thinking? â€¦ You don’t think he was intimidated by learning that information?”
Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, told the court his client was “stupid … ignorant … immature” but not a criminal.
“An 18-year-old boy, a kid, a college freshman … had an experience that he wasn’t ready for,” Altman said. “And he didn’t know how to deal with it because he was a kid.”
Copyright 2012 by United Press International