News24

Webcam trial charged never recorded video

2012-02-28 22:32

New Brunswick - A former Rutgers University student who was charged with invasion of privacy for using a webcam to spy on another student who later killed himself told jurors on Tuesday that police paperwork got it wrong when she was arrested.

Molly Wei testified that she was charged with recording and broadcasting video of a student's intimate dorm-room encounter with another man. But she said she did neither, though she did admit to viewing live streamed images.

Wei was on the stand for the second day in the bias intimidation and invasion of privacy trial of former student Dharun Ravi. Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide days after the alleged spying in September 2010.

Wei entered a programme to keep her record clean if she complies with a list of conditions, including truthful testimony.

On Tuesday, she detailed her statements to police.

She said campus police called her, then picked her up in an unmarked car after class on September 23 2010 - after Clementi went missing.

At first, she said, she was nervous about being told to get into a beige Cadillac and texted her boyfriend at another school to get in touch with police if he didn't hear from her within several hours.

She said that what she learned there rattled her so much that she had her parents take her home for the night.

Live-streamed video

"At the end of the conversation, the police officers told me that Tyler was missing and that he had possibly committed suicide," she said. "I was overwhelmed, very sad and I felt very bad if anything had happened."

She said that a few days later, she contacted authorities after learning that Ravi had sent Twitter messages telling followers to video chat with him when Clementi wanted the room to himself again.

She said she gave a brief statement about that, then was arrested and charged with invasion of privacy.

In Monday's testimony, Wei said she watched two brief snippets of live-streamed video from Ravi's webcam on her computer. In both, cases, she said, she saw Clementi and another man standing near Clementi's desk kissing.

In the second case, she said, their shirts were off.

She said she and Ravi initially agreed not to tell anyone about the first time they saw the footage.

"First of all, it was shocking. It felt wrong. We didn't expect to see that. And now that what we did, it was like we shouldn't have seen it," Wei said in testimony on Monday. "We didn't want people to know what had happened."

But, she said, she and Ravi soon told others about it - and she agreed to show other students.