Clementi received apology SMS five minutes before death
Tyler Clementi received a text message of apology from his Rutgers University roommate who is alleged to have spied on him during a sexual encounter with another man less than five minutes after posting a suicide note to Facebook, a New Jersey court has heard this week.
It is unclear if Clementi, a freshman, ever read the SMS sent by his roommate, Dharun Ravi, before jumping to his death from the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010.
“I want to explain what happened Sunday night when you requested to have someone over. I didn’t realize you wanted the room in private,” Dharun Ravi wrote in a 266-word message to Clementi.
It is alleged that Ravi used his computer’s webcam to spy on Clementi (pictured) from another computer in the neighbouring dorm room of his friend, Molly Wei, on Sunday, September 19, 2010 and attempted to do so again two days later when Clementi requested to have their shared room to himself.
“I went to Mollys room and I was showing her how I set up my computer so I can access it from anywhere. I turned on my camera and saw you in the corner of the screen and I immediately closed it,” Ravi said in the text message.
“Then Tuesday when you requested the room again I wanted to make sure what happened Sunday wouldn’t happen again.
“I went on twitter to let my friends know you wanted the room again and not to video chat me from 930 to 12 just in case, I turned my camera away and put my computer to sleep so even if anyone tried it wouldn’t work. I wanted to make amends for Sunday night. I’m sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing but I assure you all my actions were good natured.”
Ravi is alleged to have used Twitter in the days leading up to Clementi’s death to encourage others to view his live video feed.
The former Rutgers student claimed in a video-recorded police interview viewed by the jury that he sent the apology without being aware of Clementi’s suicide note posted on Facebook four minutes earlier.
Prosecutors have alleged that Ravi’s true intentions were not “good natured” and pointed to how the now 20-year-old deleted 86 text messages to high school friends in the days surrounding Clementi's suicide, in an attempt, prosecutors claim, to cover his tracks.
Earlier this week, the court heard how Ravi had sent a series of text messages to a high school friend, Michelle Huang, about feeling “creeped out” by Clementi’s interactions with an older male in their dorm room.
“I got so creeped out after Sunday,” Ravi wrote.
He then told Huang that his webcam would “keep the gays away” from his bed.
“I tested it and it works,” Ravi texted. “Be careful it could get nasty.”
Ravi is facing numerous charges, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and evidence tampering. He has not been charged with causing Clementi’s death.
Last May, Wei admitted her role in the spying and agreed to testify against Ravi in a deal with prosecutors, which also included completing a three-year intervention program involving counselling and community service.
The trial continues.
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