Burden of Proof: Analysis by Chris Cuomo
After watching his client endure an emotionally grueling day of testimony in the Rutgers webcam spy trial, the lawyer for the man known to the world only as M.B. — the secret lover of Tyler Clementi -- told ABC News his client does not want defendant Dharun Ravi to go to prison.
"He knows Ravi did wrong, but he doesn't want to see him go to jail," said Richard Pompelio, a New Jersey attorney who has earned a reputation as an outspoken advocate of victims rights.
Although Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges of bias intimidation alone, it may be significant in the court of public opinion that M.B. -- Ravi's other alleged victim -- does not believe he should serve any jail time.
Pompelio said Friday he is pleased his client "got through today and his privacy kept intact which is remarkable. He is very pleased about that... this was the most important thing to him."
According to court documents, M.B. was not out as a gay man at the time of his encounters with Clementi.
A packed courtroom, which included Tyler Clementi's parents and brother, listened intently to the testimony of M.B., the man with whom Clementi was briefly captured on a live webcam showing the two men kissing in a Rutgers dorm room. Clementi killed himself two days after the incident.
Ravi, Clementi's former roommate, is on trial charged, among other things, with invading the privacy of the two men because of their sexual preference. The trial judge has ruled that M.B.'s identity be kept private, and he would not permit television cameras to film M.B.' face nor allow audio equipment to record his testimony.
So, the soundless video image of M.B. broadcast across America was limited to a close-up of his hands. And as the day progressed, his hands were alternately clenched and trembling. At times his torso heaved in heightened breathing. Even by viewing only his hands, M.B.'s anxiety was palpable.
The unusual courtroom image, as seen by television viewers, illustrated a troubling irony in this case — a judicial paradox the prosecutor no doubt had to consider before putting M.B. on the stand.
Though Ravi and his friend, by all accounts, flipped off the webcam after seeing just a few seconds of the two men kissing, M.B.'s testimony Friday further exposed the explicit sexual acts between Clementi and M.B.
Over 100 people packed the courtroom, more than any other day of the trial, to see the witness who wanted to be seen by no one. Among them were approximately 50 journalists frantically scribbling or typing his every word.
"It is very ironic, that MB had to describe having sex in front of a group of strangers and the parents of his dead lover and subject himself to questioning in a case where his privacy was allegedly invaded," said John Fahy, a former New Jersey prosecutor. "The court is doing its best to protect his identity."
Invasion of Privacy
The state had the choice of allowing M.B. not to testify, but they needed his testimony to address their two charges of invasion of privacy. "The prosecution needed to prove sexual activity because that is a requirement of the privacy statute," Fahy said.
To prove the invasion of privacy and attempted invasion of privacy charges, the state must demonstrate that the defendant deliberately set out to expose sexual conduct without permission.
Under direct examination from the prosecution, M.B. told the court that all three dates involved sexual relations, including penetration.