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CLEMENTI CASE

Defense Witnesses Say Dharun Ravi Never Appeared Anti-Gay, But It Never Came Up

Today in the Dharun Ravi trial, defense lawyers called a series of character witnesses to assert that Ravi was not anti-gay and didn’t intend any malice against Tyler Clementi because of his sexual orientation.

The AP reports that all seven character witnesses called to the stand—mostly middle-aged business associates of Ravi’s father, a software engineer—testified that they’d never heard Ravi say anything homophobic, they also all admitted upon cross-examination that the topic of homosexuality had never been broached.

“Why would that come up?” said Anil Kappa, a business partner of Ravi’s father, after Prosecutor Julia McClure asked how many times they’d discussed homosexuality.

All seven took the stand within a relatively brief span of just one hour, after which Middlesex County Detective Frank DiNinno was summoned. Defense lawyers tried to insinuate that the prosecution’s witnesses were too close to Detective DiNinno because they call him by his first name Frank, and that jurors should take those witnesses’ testimony less seriously.

During his investigation, DiNinno interviewed Ravi’s Rutgers classmates to see if he had any anti-gay bias. DiNinno testified today that he was just trying to find out what was happening between Clementi and Ravi.

By:           Evan Mulvihill
On:           Mar 9, 2012
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 27 Comments
    • Nick
      Nick

      Not that he doesn’t suck, but what’s he charged with again? Just curious how you can be punished for not anticipating suicide.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kostas
      Kostas

      Ravi should take the stand and defend himself, if he is indeed not guilty. I do not think that it matters whether Ravi spoke about gays to a few select witnesses, or not. Would the target of his hate crimes be fearful, embarrassed, or intimidated by such actions as Ravi did? I think that the answer is YES. Ravi was using social media to gain a wide audience, and to humiliate his roommate.Ravi needs some jail time to teach him a good lesson, and to set an example that hate crimes are not tolerated. We fought so hard for the hate crime laws, just because this perpetrator very likely might be gay does not make it less of a hate crime.I think that Ravi hates being confronted by gays up close, especially if the gay is living a healthier life by trying to come to terms with his sexuality, and taking steps not to fear his own homosexuality.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Nick: said…


      Not that he doesn’t suck, but what’s he charged with again? Just curious how you can be punished for not anticipating suicide.”
      _______________

      What is it with all these weird posts continually defending this guy….ONCE AGAIN…He is NOT charged with causing Clementi’s suicide.

      He is charged with invasion of privacy, with a possible bias attachment, AND Obstruction of Justice and Witness Tampering.

      If he was charged with causing Clenenti’s death, this woudln’t be about a few years, it would be about 20 years. Where he screwed himself was in tampering with the witnesses.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tyler
      Tyler

      Kostas-You clearly don’t know anything about trials, courts, or about law. You’re NEVER supposed to testify in your own trial. I don’t think that Ravi is a closeted gay man even if you want to pretend that he is since you have the hots for him. I suppose it makes me a bad member of the LGBT community since I don’t want to see Ravi get lynched and I think he should just be charged with invasion of privacy, illegal video recording and transmission, and that’s it. This case has gone way too far and Tyler’s suicide was a tragedy but he clearly had way more issues that he kept to himself than anyone knew about.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 2 · Kostas wrote, “Ravi should take the stand and defend himself, if he is indeed not guilty.” Being not guilty is not a reason for a defense attorney to call a defendant as a witness. Someone who is completely innocent may not have any factual information to contribute, but may be very nervous, which a juror might take as an indication that the defendant is hiding something.

      In Ravi’s case, how much could he add? He set up the cam. He looked at the video stream for a couple of seconds, and fiddled with the cam a second time but failed. The jury already saw the police interview with him. He can probably add nothing useful, so calling him would just give the prosecutor a chance to trip him up, so he either blurts out a confession if guilty or appears guilty if innocent due to “foot in mouth disease”.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • lloyd
      lloyd

      If Ravi supposedly had a gay friend (as he said in one of his “apologies”), why isn’t that person testifying for the defense? These middle-aged business partners of his father were not very convincing witnesses. Teens wouldn’t be frank with these people to begin with; and since homosexuality was never discussed, what can one conclude? In fact, this testimony weakened the defense case in that one wonders why more convincing character witnesses couldn’t be found.

      The problem for the defense is that Ravi did exhibit the “act-cool” homophobia typical of many teens. He also showed that he was an insensitive jerk in general (“I hate poor people”). There was one prosecution witness who said that Ravi had met a gay guy at freshmen orientation whom he liked because he “was rich.” Of course, anyone can think what he wants (that’s free speech), but when you do something illegal and your actions are motivated by animus towards a minority, that’s when you’re in trouble. Was Ravi any more homophobic than many teens? Probably not, but he acted on his animus.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      This really has nothing to do with being gay or knowing it would lead to suicide. He invaded his roommate’s privacy and he has to deal with the consequences of his act. If Clementi had turned around and gotten a gun and killed Ravi, who’s side would you be on? Would you say, well, he was upset that the guy broadcast his private moments? Or, would you say, Ravi had no way of knowing that he would react that way? The point is that your actions have consequences. Ravi should just count his blessings that Clementi didn’t lose it and kill him. Beside the point that this whole trial is Ravi’s own doing, literally!!! They offered him probation and community service and he turned it down!!! Insisting that he did nothing wrong! YES, he DID! He could have basically gotten off free, with just community service, but because he can’t see that he played ANY part in this AT ALL he turned it down to go to court. Well, I hope they fry him for whatever they can and the judge gives him the maximum number of years possible. This guy needs a wake-up call NOW!!!

      Mar 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Peter
      Peter

      We have all seen criminal cases all over the country of “peeping Toms” who put cameras in store dressing rooms or public toilets, to view women in private moments. These guys always get convicted. At a minimum, Ravi should be convicted of everything pertaining to the invasion of privacy. There is a trust that should exist between roommates in college, even if new roommates, that certain privacy is respected, by virtue of the access each has to the other’s private lives, from living together, and sharing a key to the same room. This trust was grossly violated by Ravi, especially when he did this a second time. As to his homophobic/hate crimes actions, these come from him holding his roommate up to public ridicule – not for having sex, but because GAY SEX or GAY RELATIONS were involved. I think that the hate crimes laws exist to protect gays from such incidents. The suicide was horrible, but is not the main point here. The hate crimes issue is that Ravi was designing an invasion of privacy, using technology to invade the privacy, as well as to disseminate it as widely as possible. He is lower than SHIT and deserves no sympathy. It is sufficient that he was out to humiliate another human being, simply for being gay. I do not believe that the Pro Ravi comments this week have all been from gays who regularly read this site. I think that they are probably on the PAID PR TEAM hired by Ravi’s parents, to protect their little rich kid spoiled darling.
      I remember what high school and college were like, and how some of my gay friends were literally TORTURED psychologically by assholes like Ravi. It screws people up for a long time. Maybe you were lucky, and went to Ideal High USA, but most gays do not. These are the ones that need some help from the law, and protection from evil people like Ravi.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Xerxes
      Xerxes

      “He was out to humiliate another human being, simply for being gay”.

      That says it all. Guilty as charged on all counts. Lock him up, and throw away the key.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 8 · Peter wrote, “We have all seen criminal cases all over the country of ‘peeping Toms’ who put cameras in store dressing rooms or public toilets, to view women in private moments. These guys always get convicted. At a minimum, Ravi should be convicted of everything pertaining to the invasion of privacy.”

      Ravi is charge with section 2C:14-9, the NJ invasion of privacy law used in this case, which is applicable “if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know that another may expose intimate parts or may engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact, he observes another person without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.”

      A reasonable person would not expect to be observed in a store dressing room or public toilet as a reasonable person might be undressed there at any time. It is less clear in Ravi’s case given the time of day and the fact that Ravi apparently “peeked” using the video cam shortly after leaving the room, when the occupants would reasonably expect him to return for a few seconds to pick up a book or something else that he forgot to take for the evening. How long Ravi had to be gone before there would be an expectation of privacy is not clear. Surely a second is way too short. A couple of hours is way to long. What about 7 minutes or 8 minutes (he used the video cam 13 minutes after he returned to his room, but could easily have taken 5 minutes to talk to his roommate and get books, etc. together to stay elsewhere for the evening.) The jury is going to have to decide whether or not Ravi viewed the video stream within a short window where there would not be an expectation of privacy due to Ravi coming back to the room to pick up something he forgot.

      Ravi has a reasonable defense that the jury may or may not buy. He obviously did something that is wrong. The question is whether it was criminal given the wording of the statutes under which Ravi was charged.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 2:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      I have cameras in my own house, as part of my security system, and I sometimes look at them from another location. Is that a crime? I doubt it.

      Lots of people have security cameras that they use for security, to check on the kids, or to monitor the baby sitter.

      A student accessing his own computer over the net, and using his own webcam to look in his own room, is not much different from me using my cameras.

      The law in this area is still evolving, and there is a lot of grey area between the clear violations and the clearly legal activity.

      College kids do dumb things all the time. The appropriate punishment is usually an administrative fine or suspension, or a misdemeanor conviction. I don’t know about this case. While it was certainly a dumb prank, it might not actually be illegal.

      That’s why we have juries and judges.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 10:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve [Different person #1 using similar name]

      B,

      Thanks for continuing to post entertaining stupidity. What might have been reasonable had Ravi come back to the room to pick up a book has absolutely nothing to do with this case and the jury is not going to receive any closing argument or instruction from the bench regarding that. The jury will not assess guilt or innocence based on what would have been reasonable under circumstances that are not in issue in the case and based on facts not in evidence. You really don’t have a clue.

      The relevant circumstances are that: i) Clementi was in his bedroom on his bed, ii) during a period in which he had specifically asked to have the room for his private use. That’s all the jury needs for the first viewing. For the second, elaborately planned viewing party, which was thwarted only b/c Clementi disabled the cam, the evidence is even more damning.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 11:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      The problem, Steve, which I am sure you are aware of, is the camera was pointed towards the bed. It was NOT pointed at his belongings. Also, not to point out the obvious but since you’re insisting, he advertized the event to the entire world. Would you mind explaining to me how that is somehow watching your “valuables”.

      Give it up. You know exactly what the deal is and you sound exactly like one of his dad’s hired croonies trying to BS everyone about it.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      As for people trying to defend Ravi… WTF do you think Ravi expected out of broadcasting the event? His roommate jumping off a bridge is right on par with what he must have expected.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 12 · Steve [Different person #1 using similar name]: “B, [infantile personal comment deleted] What might have been reasonable had Ravi come back to the room to pick up a book has absolutely nothing to do with this case.”

      Wrong. It does have something to do with this case. For an invasion of privacy to be a crime, the invasion of privacy must have occurred “under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know that another may expose intimate parts or may engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact” (Section section 2C:14-9). Ravi had activated the cam for a few seconds perhaps 7 minutes after he left the room, and both Clementi and his date were fully clothed when Ravi left, and may have given no indication that any sexual activity was about to start. The defense can argue that the timing and preceding events were such that Ravi would not expect to see any clothes removed nor any “sexual penetration or sexual contact” so soon after he left, even if he suspected it would occur some time during the evening. If I had been in Clementi’s situation on Sept 19, and a roommate came back, gathered some stuff quickly to study elsewhere, and was going to take a a shower, I’d have waited long enough for him to finish the shower and get situated to avoid any awkwardness if he came back after the shower due to having forgotten something.

      Whether or not too much time had elapsed requires a judgment call on the part of a jury, but there is a reasonable argument that the defense can make (although the jury may not accept it). Molly Wei, by contrast, cannot use that argument for the second viewing that night because she had seen them kissing during the first use of the video, yet she turned on the cam again to show to some friends, apparently without Ravi’s involvement. That’s probably why she accepted a plea bargain.

      Also, requesting the room for the night does not necessarily imply sexual activity – it’s possible that they simply wanted to have a very private discussion with a comfortable spot to sit. Of course Clementi could have been more clear about his plans for the evening than the reports indicate, but due to his unfortunate death, he can’t testify.

      Finally, agreeing to let someone have use of a shared room for the night and then spying on them is not a crime (although it is socially unacceptable) unless one reasonably expects to see a person with their clothes off or engaging in some sexual activity. Whether Steve likes it or not, the defense is going to have to argue that this precondition was not met – the evidence clearly indicates that an invasion of privacy occurred so the defense pretty much has to argue that the invasion of privacy, while extremely rude, was not a criminal one.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Peter
      Peter [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @Steve:

      Do you also send out social media messages to the whole world that your roommate is having GAY SEX, they’re doing it again, I dare you to watch ??????? You are arguing that the deceased – Tyler – had no privacy rights.

      Also, Steve, you are one of the ones arguing that CRIMES that occur on college campuses are not really CRIMES. Somehow the $30,000 – $50,000 that parents pay or that kids get loans for is supposed to insulate them from responsibility under the law, even when they are over 18. This argument is made all the time about date rape, extreme public drunkeness, theft, you name it, now you want HATE CRIMES also protected under the “He’s just a kid” exception that some argue should exist in the law for CRIMES on campus.

      I also read someplace that no one remembers Ravi ever having a girl friend relationship. To me, this points to the textbook homophobic response, he was uncomfortable seeing a gay person OUT and not hiding it. Isn’t this conduct of Tyler supposed to occur by college, if not earlier? Were the straight kids who were fucking getting spied on like this, and held up to public scorn? The hate crimes laws are totally meant to protect gays from all such hideous conduct, no matter if done by a straight or a gay homophobe.
      Ravi needs some jail time to learn how to get along with roommates. He’ll learn about not having privacy when he has to shit on one of those tin cans they have in jail cells, in full view.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 13 · Mark wrote, “The problem, Steve, which I am sure you are aware of, is the camera was pointed towards the bed. It was NOT pointed at his belongings. Also, not to point out the obvious but since you’re insisting, he advertized the event to the entire world. Would you mind explaining to me how that is somehow watching your “valuables”.”

      While this argument has been made before, it is actually not obvious that the cam could be
      pointed at Ravi’s belongings in any useful way. That depends on how the room was arranged. Ravi’s defense may claim that the cam was pointed towards his roommate’s bed to make sure that M.B. did not stray from Tyler’s “half” of the room. They would have to show some diagrams of how the room was arranged and the cam’s field of view if they are going to have a chance of convincing a jury.

      Ravi’s defense will have more trouble with the invitations. He apparently claimed that “I dare you to XXX” was his way of saying “don’t do XXXX.” When spoken, such a meaning might be indicated by a tone of voice. He’ll have to claim that his friends knew what he meant and get some to testify that they did. Also, even with his computer being turned off, if someone tried to “chat” connecting directly to the computer, a connection-request packet of some sort would have been sent to Ravi’s machine. If there was no traffic at all, that means nobody tried to connect, which would help back up a claim that Ravi did not want people to actually peek. If there were connection attempts, the D.A. would have surely wanted those introduced as evidence.

      The defense might also claim that Ravi edited the “tweets” to make that meaning clear once it became obvious to him that a lot of people who didn’t know him might look at those (i.e., he was not trying to hide evidence). Ravi has been called a “computer wiz” in the press, if not by the D.A. – if so, he should have known that Twitter would have backups and log files that could be subpoenaed, so a change for public consumption would not destroy evidence.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • J Ascher
      J Ascher

      @Steve: Ravi wasn’t recording images in *his* own residence. He shared the room with another person. His actions, even if unintentional, appear to have violated Clementi’s privacy at the very least.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 18 · J Ascher wrote, “@Steve: Ravi wasn’t recording images in *his* own residence. He shared the room with another person. His actions, even if unintentional, appear to have violated Clementi’s privacy at the very least.”

      Of course there was a violation of privacy. The question is whether it was a criminal one.
      The law (for the Sept 19 incident) basically says that it is a crime if one invades someone’s privacy and X is true. There was clearly an invasion of privacy, but whether that invasion of privacy is criminal depends on X being true as well, and the defense only has to provide reasonable doubt as to whether the prosecution has shown that X is true.

      In some comments above, I gave some examples of how one might go about showing that there is reasonable doubt. Whether the defense uses similar arguments or something different depends on a number of factors, including material that has not yet been made public. Also, the jury was not allowed to consider some statements in Clementi’s request for a room change, so the facts the jury has to work with are not the ones that the general public has.

      Mar 11, 2012 at 1:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Steve: said…

      “I have cameras in my own house, as part of my security system, and I sometimes look at them from another location. Is that a crime? I doubt it.
      Lots of people have security cameras that they use for security, to check on the kids, or to monitor the baby sitter.
      A student accessing his own computer over the net, and using his own webcam to look in his own room, is not much different from me using my cameras.”
      ___________________

      Actually it is very different. They were too adults in a room owned by the University. The University had no cameras in there, and Ravi never informed Tyler that he was filming. For it to be legal, you not only have to inform them, that you are filming, you have to have their permission in a situation like that.

      In a business, it is against the law for instance to have cameras inside without informing your employees.

      Mar 11, 2012 at 9:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David
      David

      Mark, nobody knows why Tyler killed himself and in the end it was his choice. Tyler apparently was not closeted and he was out and had been out to his family and friends, and even when his hook up or trick ‘MB’ testified he said that Tyler seemed happy at the time. Tyler should have stayed alive and sued both Ravi and Rutgers.

      Mar 11, 2012 at 11:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 20 · Cam wrote, “Actually it is very different. They were too adults in a room owned by the University. The University had no cameras in there, and Ravi never informed Tyler that he was filming. For it to be legal, you not only have to inform them, that you are filming, you have to have their permission in a situation like that. In a business, it is against the law for instance to have cameras inside without informing your employees.”

      That the room was owned by a university is not relevant – the university was acting as a landlord and renting the room to two students. Ravi had some legal requirements but not what Cam claims because this was a criminal case. The condition that makes such an invasion of privacy a crime is “if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know that another may expose intimate parts or may engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact, he observes another person without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.” If Ravi had informed them in advance, it would not be a situation “in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed,” and Ravi would have a good defense against criminal charges (but not civil ones).

      Re No. 21 where David wrote, “Tyler should have stayed alive and sued both Ravi and Rutgers.” Why sue Rutgers? His R.A. was helpful but a room change request cannot reasonably be processed instantly. Apparently the suicide occurred before an administrator even saw it. If the university was engaged in some foot dragging, that would obviously be different, but there is no evidence of foot dragging.

      Mar 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • April
      April

      I believe that if Ravi truly had hatred for Clementi for being gay he would have requested a new roommate. I think he set up the webcam to provide immature entertainment for him and his friends. It gave him something “dramatic” to discuss with his friends. Some teenagers crave this sort of drama without thinking of the other person OR the consequences. I believe he should be punished for the invasion of privacy, but (no matter how much of a jerk he really is) I do not believe he should serve the 5-10 years that is on the table.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • john pupparo
      john pupparo

      he never did anything wrong. The guy was unstable and was dealing with the fact that he was gay. All Ravi did was feel uncomfortable that anyone one would, with a gay roommate. Ehw brought one of his “buddies” in to sodomize. come on now. Why penalize someone for standing against what is true

      Mar 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • peter comer
      peter comer

      totally agree. Homosexuality is a sin and awful act of disgusting. How can you say putting your dick up a dirty ass full of shit is intimacy. All Ravi was doing was defending himself.

      Mar 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Praveen
      Praveen

      @Steve: this really makes sense

      Mar 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • john guindon
      john guindon

      @john pupparo: It was a freshman responding… how could he control someone who is unstable. Like John and Pete said. The guy was queer so he had it coming. it is just un natural

      Mar 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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