NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - “Yes,’’ Dharun Ravi said in a video of a police interview played for jurors Wednesday, he did violate the privacy of his Rutgers University roommate by seeing him in an intimate moment with another man.
But, he said, he did not mean any harm: “I didn’t realize it was something so private,’’ he said. “It was my room, too.’’
The recorded interview was the first time jurors have heard Ravi’s voice in his trial, which so far has lasted nine days. Ravi faces 15 criminal charges, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and tampering with evidence and a witness.
Authorities say he used his webcam to spy on roommate Tyler Clementi on Sept. 19, 2010, and tried to do it again two days later when Clementi asked to have the room privately again.
On Sept. 22, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
The tragedy turned Clementi into a symbol of the difficulties confronting young gays.
Now, Ravi is facing up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of the most serious charges.
Jurors have heard the story from other college students, a dorm resident assistant, and police who inspected the computers and cellphones of the two roommates and other students.
On Wednesday, they got an account from Ravi himself. The interview with authorities ended abruptly after the investigators told Ravi, now 20, that his father wanted him to have a lawyer.
In the nearly hourlong video, Ravi spoke quickly but was mostly composed, looking at the detective who questioned him even as he was accused repeatedly of lying and told that he might be charged with a crime.
He said he did not understand when Clementi first told him he was having a friend over that that he meant he wanted privacy in the room.
He said the guest - a man who testified earlier in the trial and was identified only by the initials M.B. - gave him a “bad vibe’’ and did not acknowledge Ravi when he said hello.
He said he viewed the room using his webcam to see what was going on and turned if off after a few seconds, once he realized what the men were doing. He said he did not explicitly see that they were kissing but he could tell that’s what they were doing.