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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for February, 2012

Opening Statements Given in Dahrum Ravi Trial

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2012

The prosecution and defense teams gave their opening statements this morning in the trial of Dahrum Ravi, who is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest in connection with a series of events which led to the suicide of Tyler Cleminti, Ravi’s Rutgers University dormmate. In opening statements, Ravi’s defense lawyer Steven Altman said that what Ravi did was “stupid” but not criminal:

“You’re going to see evidence that Dahrun is not homophobic, not anti-gay. Evidence that he never recorded, never broadcast images of his roommate. He never harassed his roommate, or ridiculed or spoke negatively about his roommate. He thought he was nice guy and had no problem with him,” Altman said.

Instead, Altman said, the jury should keep in mind that Ravi was a “boy” who was 18 at the time and who occasionally acted immaturely when discussing his roommate’s perceived sexuality among his friends.

“He might be stupid at times, but he’s 18 years old and he’s certainly not criminal,” Altman said.

Ravi is charged with setting up a webcam on his computer and inviting friends via Twitter to watch his roommate, Tyler Clementi, spending an intimate evening with another male via iChat. Ravi had modified his settings on iChat so that anyone could automatically activate the webcam by contacting Ravi through the video chat application without “waking” the computer screen. Clementi committed suicide three days after the first incident and one day after the second attempt. Prosecutors accuse Ravi of invading Clementi’s privacy and exposing him to public ridicule:

“He’s seeking to brand Tyler as different from everybody else, as gay, to set him up for contempt and ridicule,” she said. “These acts were not a prank, not an accident, not a mistake, and certainly were not good natured… These acts were purposeful, intentional, planned. I would suggest to you beyond that they were mean spirited, malicious, and criminal.”