Rutgers University hate cam trial continues with mystery witness

Posted on Mar 2 2012 - 7:32pm by pridenation

Defense lawyers tried to portray him in daylong testimony as older, dangerous, and vaguely predatory.

But in the sensational Rutgers University hate cam trial, the mystery prosecution witness at the center of the case — who has asked to be identified only as “M.B.” — today presented a calm, intelligent, and at times, awkward front as he blunted an aggressive cross-examination by lawyers for accused peeping bigot student Dharun Ravi.

“We wanted to see each other every single day,” the compact 32-year-old testified in a deep, low voice of tragic Tyler Clementi, who he described as a willing participant in the two dorm room trysts Ravi is charged with simulcasting for giggling fellow freshman.

“We had a very good relationship,” he told jurors. M.B. was 30 at the time. Clementi was 18.

A fresh-faced freshman and aspiring violinist who had just come out to his family about being gay, Clementi would fling himself from the George Washington Bridge a few days after learning that Ravi, his assigned roommate and also 18 at the time, had trained a web-cam on the first tryst, and had tried to organize a viewing party for the second tryst.

The suicide sparked a national debate about cyberbullying and the bullying of gay youth.

“It hurts him terribly that this young man is dead,” M.B.’s lawyer, Richard Pompelio, told reporters at the lunch break.

As to M.B.’s carefully guarded privacy — media were strictly barred from photographing or otherwise recording the witness — Pampelio reminded reporters that M.B., too, had been spied upon, making him a victim in a bias crime with a strong sexual component.

“He is a crime victim, and he has asked to be treated with fairness, and compassion, and respect and dignity.” Added the lawyer, “Can you imagine if he doesn’t remain anonymous? There would be countless people knocking on his door…If his picture is plastered all over, what does that do to his life

Ravi, 20, is not charged in Clementi’s death. Instead, he is defending himself against charges of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy, and doing so by suggesting that it was a genuine concern for the older stranger in his dorm room that led him to activate his web cam from the dorm room across the hall.

Prosecutors have countered that Ravi openly transgressed the bounds of decency — and the law — even Tweeting to pals about watching Clementi’s first encounter and urging buddies on his Ultimate Frisbee team to tune in from another dorm room to the next encounter.

Earlier today, M.B. told the packed Middlesex County courtroom that hat he remembers well seeing Ravi’s web cam camera during his tryst. The camera wasn’t turned on at that point — but it was pointed right at Clementi’s bed.

“I noticed there was a web cam, faced over in the direction of the bed. I just thought it was strange. Being in a compromising position…it just caught my eye that there was a camera lens looking right at me,” M.B. testified.

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