Student’s Date to Testify in Rutgers Hate Crime Case
A resident assistant at Rutgers University testified today about fielding concerns from Tyler Clementi, the university student who in September 2010 committed suicide after his roommate secretly taped him engaged in intimate contact with another man. Raahi Grover, a Rutgers graduate who was a senior at the time of the incident, described to the court Clementi’s demeanor the night the freshman knocked on his door to report a roommate conflict.
“I could tell by the tone of his voice he seemed a little uncomfortable,” Grover said to the court.
Clementi told Grover of his suspicion that his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had been spying on him and requested a room change. Two days prior, Ravi had used a Web cam to record Clementi and then went on Twitter to report the incident to other users. Clementi saw Ravi’s messages, which aroused his suspicion.
Grover testified that he filed an incident report through the school’s computer system and spoke with a resident hall director. “Tyler prefers a roommate switch asap and prefers a punishment,” read the incident report.
The report also included a more detailed description of Clementi’s suspicions, which Clementi himself provided to Grover.
“I asked him to write an email to me describing the incident and referencing whatever needed to be referenced,” Grover said.
In addition, prosecutors plan to call to the stand the man that Clementi was caught in contact with. Known only by his initials, “M.B.,” the witness’ identity is being kept secret because he is being treated as a victim and because he is not out about his sexual orientation. M.B. is expected to testify about his relationship with Clementi, what he and Clementi knew about the Webcam and Clementi’s reaction to his roommate.
Multiple classmates of Ravi and Clementi have already testified that Ravi’s actions did not seem fueled by anti-gay prejudice. Rather, the student had set up the Webcam out of concern for the safety of his electronic equipment. Ravi’s motivation is critical to the prosecution’s charge of bias intimidation, a hate crime that requires proof that Ravi actively set out to intimidate or humiliate Clementi because of his sexual orientation.