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Rutgers Spycam Trial: Former student admits to adjusting webcam for Dharun Ravi

Lokesha Ojha in court, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012
AP Images

(CBS/AP) NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A Rutgers student gave some of the most damaging testimony yet in Dharun Ravi's trial for allegedly using a webcam to spy on his roommate's intimate encounter with another man.

Pictures: Tyler Clementi

On Wednesday, Lokesh Ojha told the court how he had helped the defendant adjust his webcam so he could get a clear view of his roommate's bed. Authorities say that by then, Ravi had already spied on roommate Tyler Clementi once, and said on that night, Sept. 21, 2010, he was intending to do it again.

Days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

After the prosecution finished questioning Ojha, Ravi's defense lawyer cross-examined him and new, more complicated stories emerged. Ojha appeared to be fighting back tears as he acknowledged that he didn't tell the entire truth under oath in an early meeting with investigators.

"I thought my college career was over," he said staring down at the top of the witness stand.

"Why," Altman asked.

"Because I helped him," Ojha said. "I helped him set it up." Ojha did say that while he was trying to help Ravi with his webcam, Ravi never told him why he wanted the help.

Ojha was the first student to say that he tried to connect with Ravi's webcam on Sept. 21, the night Ravi posted on Twitter: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to videochat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again."

The Star-Ledger reports Ravi then went to Ojha's room and to his computer to check the webcam, the friend testified. Ravi left Ojha's room and went to his own.

"He was walking around the room," Ojha said, recalling how he could see Ravi through the webcam. "I saw Tyler's bed."

Ojha is expected to be back on the witness stand Thursday.

Also on Wednesday, jurors heard Clementi's own words for the first time when they were read a bit of an email he sent his resident assistant about the alleged spying. In the email, Clementi he was "extremely uncomfortable sharing a room with someone who would act in this manner." But Judge Glenn Berman ruled that further description could not be shared with jurors: Clementi said what he called spying was "wildly inappropriate."

There's a chance that prosecutors will also call the man students said they saw kissing Clementi in a streaming video to testify. He's been identified in court papers only by his initials, M.B.,because prosecutors say he is the victim of a sex crime. It is not clear how tightly his identity will be protected when he appears in court.

Complete coverage of Tyler Clementi and the Dharun Ravi trial on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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