Posted by: Catherine Lugg | August 12, 2011

Ravi pre-trial “reindeer games”

Today, the Newark Star-Ledger has a story based on pre-trial filings by Dharun Ravi’s lawyer.

Now, before I present the details of the story, one needs to remember that the lawyer releases information in the hopes of planting seeds of “reasonable doubt” in the public’s mind–and hopefully any potential jurors. So, besides building a legal case, the lawyer has to build a PR case for his client, particularly since said client was even attacked by that great advocate of queer rights, Gov. Chris Christie (total SNARK). So, the details that are revealed in this story are to bolster Ravi’s case. There will be additional, probably highly damning details for Ravi that come out during the trail. But the prosecution has done an admirable job of NOT trying this case in media. So, with these cautions, here we go on the new details:

Clementi told his family he was gay shortly before leaving for college and received a mixed reaction from his parents. “It’s a good thing dad is ok w/it or I would be in serious trouble/ mom has basically completely rejected me,” Clementi wrote in another instant messaging chat with a friend.

Ravi used his computer skills to deduce Clementi was gay as soon as Rutgers sent him the name of his new roommate. He used Clementi’s e-mail address to learn he had frequented web pages for gay men. “Most gay person I’ve ever seen,” Ravi wrote in an Aug. 22, 2010, computer chat with a friend.

 After they moved in together, Clementi and Ravi spent time in their room chatting on their computers with friends about their tense living arrangements. Clementi said Ravi would not change his clothes in front of him. “He knows I’m gay and wow he changes his pants inside of his closet … it’s the most awk thing you’ve ever seen,” Clementi wrote in an instant messaging chat with a friend.

 While Ravi made fun of Clementi being gay, Clementi made fun of his roommate’s Indian heritage. “His (family) is sooo indian/ first gen americanish . . . just like . . . first son off to college . . . his rents defs owna dunkin (donuts),” Clementi wrote in an Aug. 28 chat with a friend the day he moved into the dorm.

 Ravi and Wei were the only ones watching when they turned on the webcam in Clementi’s room on Sept. 19, according to a transcript of Wei’s statement to investigators. They stopped watching the webcam, but then turned it on a second time with four other people in the room: Wei’s roommate and three female friends. Wei told police they turned off the computer immediately after seeing Clementi and his guest shirtless and kissing.

 On Sept. 21, Ravi attempted to use the webcam a second time but failed. Before the attempt, Ravi allegedly used other students’ computers to check the angle of the webcam, according to investigators’ testimony to the grand jury. One student living in the dorm said Ravi wanted the webcam pointed at Clementi’s bed. Another female student said Ravi used her computer to check the camera was operational.

Clementi told a friend he was not too bothered when he first learned his roommate had briefly turned on the webcam and saw him kissing another man. “When I first read the tweet I defs felt violated/ But then/ When I remembered what actually happened … / Idk (I don’t know) … /Doesn’t seem soooo bad lol,” Clementi wrote in a Sept. 20 chat with a friend. However, Clementi eventually reported the incident to Rutgers officials and requested a new room. He also learned Ravi allegedly tried to turn on the webcam a second time and send out a Twitter message to friends telling them when to watch.

What the lawyer is doing is saying, “Yeah, my guy is a bit homophobic, but so is Clementi’s mom.” Also, “Clementi was a bit racist, so there.” And finally, “Nobody really saw anything except my client and his former friend, so there was no real harm inflected. See, even Clementi admitted it was no big deal.” Talk about moral courage….. I suspect instead of using the “gay panic defense” which the lawyer can’t do in NJ, he’s using the “mom’s a homophobe, so that’s why Tyler jumped” defense. The lawyer will probably twist the extant research that finds that queer kids who have homophobic parents have a greater risk of suicide. That said, I suspect public sexual humiliation, the illegal use of technology to facilitate that humiliation, and gross invasions of privacy, will be the key points for the prosecution.

The next court date is September 9, 2011.

Stay tuned….

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