Accused Rutgers Students Did Not See Tyler Clementi Having Sex, Say Lawyers

Dharun Ravi, Molly Wei say they only saw student kissing before his suicide.

November 1, 2010, 12:05 PM

Nov. 1, 2010— -- Lawyers for the two former Rutgers freshmen accused of webcasting classmate Tyler Clementi's tryst with another man, say the live video stream was viewed on a single computer and did not includes images of sexual intercourse.

Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18, were charged with invasion of privacy after Ravi used a webcam on Sept. 19 to capture his roommate having a sexual encounter with an older man and broadcast it to at least one computer in Wei's dorm room. Ravi alerted classmates via Twitter that they too could watch the livestream.

Days later Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge, becoming an international flashpoint in ongoing debate about cyberbullying and teen suicide.

Ravi and Wei, friends from high school, both recently withdrew from Rutgers, more than a month after the incident. Neither student has publicly come forward to say what they viewed or why they set up the camera.

"When the forensic evidence from all the seized computers is revealed, the truth will come out," Steve Altman, Ravi's attorney, told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Nothing was transmitted beyond one computer and what was seen was only viewed for a matter of seconds."

In the interview Ravi and Wei's lawyers said the two men only kissed each other, and because they were not naked the act did not constitute a sexual encounter.

"I'm unaware of any evidence of sexual contact," Rubin Sinins, Wei's attorney told the paper. "The statute defining sexual contact refers to nudity and private parts, and, to my knowledge, nothing like that was seen. I'm also unaware of any evidence that any video was recorded, reproduced or disseminated in any way."

Calls to both lawyers by were not returned.

Prosecutors are considering upgrading the charges against Ravi and Wei to a hate crime, but would not comment on the defense lawyers' recent statements to the media.

Rutgers Students Deny Streaming Tyler Clementi's Tryst

"The investigation is continuing and we won't comment," said James O'Neill, spokesman for the Middlesex County prosecutor.

Experts, however, told that it may matter little that only two people watched the video, if Ravi said he broadcast it across the Internet.

"It certainly sounds like [Ravi] broadcast to anyone in range of his Twitter account that his roommate was engaged in some kind of foreplay or act with another man," said Linda Fairstein, a former New York City prosecutor who specialized in sex crimes.

"The [Twitter] broadcast would have compromised the safety and well being of Tyler, whether anyone watched or not. The fact that [Ravi] explicitly said what you can see online is what created the harm."

On Sept. 19, Ravi tweeted: "Roommate asked for the room until midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

On Sept. 21, he followed up: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."

Clementi killed himself on Sept. 22.

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