“M.B.” Discusses Webcam, Gossip Today During Testimony In Dharun Ravi Trial

At this very moment, Tyler Clementi‘s gay date—identified anonymously as M.B. in court papers—is testifying against Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s former roommate at Rutgers.

Ravi is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, after he spied on Clementi’s hookups with M.B. twice, mere days before Clementi plunged to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

Several of Ravi’s college friends have said Ravi was not outrightly anti-gay. But not Geoffrey Irving, who took the stand yesterday.

According to the Star-Ledger, Irving testified that:

“From my observation of his demeanor, he appeared uncomfortable with the situation [of having a gay roommate]. [Ravi] told me he had set up a webcam of some sort to capture images of his roommate. He told me he had done it before that date [and] that he was planning on doing it again. That night.”

When cross-examined by Ravi’s lawyer, Irving admitted that he had never heard Ravi being outright homophobic or malicious to Clementi. Irving did say he thought Ravi was “uncomfortable” with Clementi being gay, though.

According to live tweets from in-the-courthouse Wall Street Journal reporter Pervaiz Shallwani, M.B. entered through the side door to avoid the media circus. “He is clean shaven, short cropped hair, blue button-up shirt, tallish with just a slight heft,” tweeted Shallwani.

Reporter Kurt Siegelin tweeted that “only M.B.’s hands are being shown. No audio from courtroom. Great measures being taken to protect identity.”

M.B. testified that, “while we were intimate together on the bed, I just glanced over and I noticed that there was a webcam positioned towards the bed,” wrote Shallwani.

“It just caught my eye that there was a camera lens looking directly at me. [As I was leaving, I] saw a group of people standing there looking at me… It was really just kind of unsettling. I wasn’t really trying to look at them.”

This was during M.B. and Clementi’s second encounter on Sept. 19, 2010. (The first was on Sept 16, which was not spied on by Ravi.) The young men got together again on Sept. 21, 2010, a day before Clementi took his life.

That time, M.B. says he could hear people gossiping about them:

“It sounded like people talking and people laughing. It seemed like making jokes at someone’s expense… I texted [Clementi] every day after that. I did intend to see him. As far as I was going to return to that building to see him, I felt a little uneasy about it.”

On Oct. 1, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office reached out to M.B. and let him know that Clementi had taken his life. More testimony is expected when the defense begins its cross-examination.

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  • Bob

    Am I the only one spooked by those blood-shot eyes on Dharun Ravi?

  • Charley

    Not sure why unusual measures needed to protect witness’ identity. While he may be embarrassed he did no wrong.

  • Jakey

    @Charley: It has nothing to do with him doing something wrong, it has to do with him being a fellow victim (the charges are not for the death, but for the spying). Apparently the man is also in the closet and would not want his identity revealed anyway.

  • Kyle

    M.B.? And, why is he hidden? Is this the McCarthy hearings? Is M.B. part of the Red Scare? Oh my god, it’s 2012…sometimes I think it’s 1950 still.

  • B

    No. 3 · Charley wrote, “Not sure why unusual measures needed to protect witness’ identity. While he may be embarrassed he did no wrong.”

    There are elevated standards for protecting witnesses in sex-related crimes, including this sort of spying, although it is probably more common in sexual-assault cases.

    One reason for protecting his identity: suppose Ravi had in fact configured his computer to record the video stream or someone who saw the video recorded it. Such a video, if M.B’s name was known, could be used to blackmail him or retaliate against him. Because of such possibilities, there is a rationale for providing witnesses in these sort of cases added protection. Also, the possibility (an implicit threat) of being unwillingly turned into a porn celebrity might very well influence a witness’ testimony, and M.B. has no way of knowing if Ravi only did what the evidence to date indicates.

  • cwm

    It doesn’t matter whether M.B. is “out” or not. The publicity of this case is certain to disrupt his life tremendously. Those who say, “But he has nothing to hide,” do you assume he has nerves of steel? Maybe he has panic disorder, and the circumstances of his life (or employment) would prevent him from taking medication to relieve it. Maybe he’d prefer not to be forever known as, “That guy who had sex with the young violin player before he jumped off the bridge.”

    Some of the secrecy may be intended not for M.B.’s well-being: but to prevent the jury from learning unnecessary, confusing or inflammatory info which would make it more difficult for them to reach a fair decision. They weren’t even allowed to see the message from Clementi asking for a new roommate. Not every detail of the trial–or the judge’s decisions–is reaching the press.

  • Allnighter

    The problem with all this anonymity is that the most important question of all is not being answered: Is M.B. hot?

  • ewe

    @Kyle: Because MB is a potential sex crimes victim that also reserves the right to go after Ravi for criminal intent.

  • ewe

    That Bitch Erin Burnett on CNN rolled her eyes with dismissive immoratlity toward the fact MB is twelve years Tylers senior. I never once saw that cunt remotely act that way toward heterosexual people.

  • rutgers1017

    that sad part is that Ravi has never even apologized when clearly he invaded his roommates privacy, and his father walks with him in the courtroom smiling because he’s so proud of the son he raised.

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