Key Witness Takes Stand in Rutgers Web-Cam Trial
The closely watched Rutgers criminal trial continued Monday and Tuesday as a key witness offered testimony about the alleged innocuous intentions of Dharun Ravi, who secretly used a Web cam to video his roommate Tyler Clementi engaged in intimate contact with another man. Days after the 2010 incident, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Ravi faces 15 criminal charges for his actions, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Witness Molly Wei was originally charged alongside Ravi for her alleged involvement in recording and broadcasting Clementi. However, she denies any direct contribution, claiming that she only viewed the live steaming images. Charges against Wei have been dropped, and her record will remain clean if she complies with a list of conditions, including truthful testimony.
Wei is a critical witness for prosecutors who, in order to successfully convict Ravi of bias intimidation, must prove that he acted with intended bias toward gays. In her Monday testimony, Wei seemed to allude to the fact that Ravi’s intentions were harmless in nature.
“First of all, it was shocking. It felt wrong. We didn’t expect to see that. And now that what we did, it was like we shouldn’t have seen it,” Wei said in testimony on Monday. “We didn’t want people to know what had happened.”
Their initial shock didn’t stop them from sharing video of the incident with friends. Still, Wei stands by the claim that Ravi didn’t seem to intend to intimidate Clementi.
Wei took the stand again on Tuesday, detailing her interactions with campus police just days after Clementi went missing. According to her testimony, authorities picked her up in an unmarked car on Sept. 23, 2010. She said the officers told her that Clementi had gone missing and had possibly committed suicide.
“I was overwhelmed, very sad and I felt very bad if anything had happened,” Wei testified.
She then said that she contacted the police a few days later after she learned that Ravi had used Twitter to solicit users to chat with him the next time Clementi wanted the dorm room to himself. Shortly thereafter, Wei says she was arrested and charged with invasion of privacy.