Burden of Proof: M.B. Wants No Jail for Dharun Ravi


M.B. testified that he and Clementi met on a gay social networking website Adam4Adam in August 2010. They frequently communicated via instant messenger and text messages until finally arranging a rendezvous at Tyler's dorm room on Sept. 16. They considered and dismissed the idea of meeting in a hotel room, and M.B. also invited Clementi to "hang out" in his car.

During their first meeting, M.B. arrived after 10 p.m. and left before 2 a.m. on Sept.17. They did not run into Ravi that night and M.B. told the court, "It was my understanding that his roommate [Ravi] wouldn't be back until [later]."

On their second date, on Sunday, Sept. 19, M.B. noticed a webcam in the room, but initially did not think anything of it. "I just noticed it because I happened to glance over…There was a camera lens glancing directly at me."

"There was no thoughts that somebody might be watching me…If I saw a light on, maybe I would have brought it up. There was no lights on (the webcam)," he said.

The fact that M.B. was unaware of that the webcam could be remotely activated -- and had been activated for several seconds -- and was oblivious to Ravi's tweets about the incidents make it legally difficult to draw the conclusion that Ravi meant to intimidate M.B.

Bias Intimidation

To prove the bias intimidation charges, the state must show that Ravi intimidated Clementi because of his sexual orientation, a charge which several of the state's own witnesses have refuted.

The prosecution presented several witnesses earlier this week who said that they had briefly viewed Clementi and M.B. kissing that night via Ravi's webcam. M.B. was unable to identify any of the students, and although he used the words "unsettling" and "uncomfortable" to describe his feelings on Sept 19, he never used the words "afraid" or "intimidated" during his testimony.

Furthermore, M.B. speculated, "I wasn't shaven that night, so maybe I looked older...maybe I looked out of place and that is why they were looking at me," which may undermine the prosecution's allegations that the actions of the defendant were based on a bias against sexual orientation.

In contrast to the "scruffy" and "unshaven" man described in court documents, M.B. was clean-shaven and wore a blue button-up shirt when he took the stand.

On Sept. 21, Clementi and M.B. met for a third time in Clementi's dorm. M.B. recalling hearing people through the window, "talking in the courtyard -- people joking, people laughing. It seemed like the jokes were at somebody else's expense."

M.B. was not permitted by the judge to describe how Clementi reacted to the laughter because it was considered hearsay. Because M.B. did not hear the jokes distinctly and never looked out of the window to identify the students below, this incident cannot be linked to Ravi to support the charges of bias intimidation.

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