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Witness: Ravi was 'uncomfortable' with gay roommate

From Michael Christian, InSession
updated 4:28 PM EST, Thu March 1, 2012
 Dharun Ravi faces a 15-count indictment, which includes hate crime charges, in the death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi.
Dharun Ravi faces a 15-count indictment, which includes hate crime charges, in the death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dharu Ravi told a student that he had set up the webcam and was to do it again
  • Thursday marks the fifth day of Ravi's trial
  • The former Rutgers University student is accused of spying on Clementi
  • Days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide

New Brunswick, New Jersey (CNN) -- Dharun Ravi "appeared uncomfortable" with having Tyler Clementi, who he suspected was gay, as a roommate, an ultimate frisbee teammate testified Thursday in a case that accuses the former Rutgers University student of spying.

On the trial's fifth day, Geoffrey Irving testified to the jury that Ravi told him that he had set up a web camera in his dorm room and was planning to do it again that night, referring to the evening of September 21, 2010.

Prosecutors have said that Ravi and another student placed the camera in the room without Clementi's knowledge to allegedly spy on his intimate encounter with another man

The man with whom Clementi had an encounter, listed only as "M.B.," had been expected to take the stand Thursday, but did not. Prosecutors have withheld the man's name to protect his identity.

Ravi's attorney, Philip Nettl, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Just days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey and Manhattan across the Hudson River.

Ravi, 20, now faces a 15-count indictment in Clementi's death that includes charges of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence, witness tampering and hindering apprehension or prosecution. His trial began Friday.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Last year, he turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid jail time.

The deal offered by Middlesex County prosecutors would have required the former student to undergo 600 hours of community service, counseling and to dispose of any information that could identify the man who appeared in the web video with Clementi.

Prosecutors also offered to help Ravi avoid deportation, though they said they could not guarantee it. Ravi is a citizen of India who had been studying on a visa at the New Jersey university.

Earlier, Molly Wei, a 19-year-old Rutgers student, reached a plea deal that requires her to testify against Ravi.

"Police officers told me that they believe Tyler is missing and that he possibly committed suicide and I was feeling very -- I was sad, overwhelmed. I felt very bad if anything had happened," Wei told jurors during her second day of testimony.

Should Wei complete a three-year program on cyberbullying, as well as 300 hours of community service without any additional legal troubles, charges against her for allegedly watching the video will be dropped, according to prosecutors.

She also testified about when she learned of messages Ravi allegedly sent about the stream.

"I was very surprised because my friends brought it up, and I had no idea how they knew, but they said that Dharun had told them. ... They told me about these Twitter, tweets, that they received on Tuesday about him trying to have a viewing party," Wei said.

Less than a month after Clementi's suicide, President Barack Obama released a videotaped message condemning bullying.

In November, Clementi's family consented to the use of his name on federal anti-harassment legislation called the "Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act."

The proposed law would require schools that receive federal student aid "to create policies prohibiting the harassment of any student," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey.

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