Crime

Lawyers in Tyler Clementi Suicide: No One Saw Broadcast

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Lawyers for the two former Rutgers freshmen accused of broadcasting another student's gay encounter now say no one else saw the webcast -- and what they saw was not enough to warrant serious charges.

Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei are charged with invasion of privacy after Ravi allegedly used a camera to capture his roommate, Tyler Clementi, with another man last month. Ravi is accused of telling classmates via Twitter where they could watch it.

A few days later, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. His death became a symbol of cyberbullying leading to suicides, especially among young gays.

But lawyers now say no one else watched it. "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."

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In those few seconds, the lawyers say Ravi and Wei only saw the two men kiss each other. They claim since they were not naked, the act did not constitute a sexual encounter. Therefore, they say, further charges are not appropriate.

"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."

Prosecutors are considering upgrading the charges against Ravi and Wei to a hate crime, and are looking into whether the evidence would support such a charge.

Ravi and Wei withdrew from the New Jersey university last week.