Feb 202012
 
Authors: The Record Karen Sudol

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — About 200 people filled out questionnaires Friday as jury selection got under way in the trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s intimate encounter with a man.

Prosecutors and the attorneys for Dharun Ravi, 19, plan to review the 17-page questionnaires over the weekend. They will determine on Tuesday which potential jurors are ineligible to serve and which should return on Wednesday for interviews.

It’s not known how long it will take to seat a jury in the trial before Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman.

Prosecutors have said Ravi, of Plainsboro, secretly used a webcam on Sept. 19, 2010, to watch his roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, in a tryst with a man identified in records as M.B. Two days later, authorities said, Ravi attempted to view a second encounter and, in a Twitter post, invited others to watch. He also tried to convince witnesses not to testify against him, according to prosecutors.

Following the incidents, Clementi, of Ridgewood, reported Ravi’s actions to a resident adviser. Clementi committed suicide on Sept. 22, 2010, by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
The case sparked a national conversation on cyberbullying, teen suicide and homophobia.

Ravi, dressed in a dark gray suit, gray shirt and tie, sat in court between his two attorneys Friday. He is charged with 15 counts, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, witness tampering and hindering apprehension. His father was in the courtroom Friday.

Jury selection began with the judge telling the prospective jurors they would be required to fill out a questionnaire before leaving for the day. The questions ranged from explaining job duties and educational background to answering whether they ever lived in a dorm or were bullied.

The judge also emphasized that Ravi is not charged with causing or contributing to Clementi’s death.
Berman excused more than 20 jurors after they revealed hardships that prevented them from serving.
The trial is expected to last between three and four weeks.
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©2012 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)
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