US: Friends say Ravi wasn`t anti-gay

Last Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2012 - 13:04

New York: Friends of Indian-origin student Dharun Ravi, who is on trial for allegedly spying on his roommate`s sexual encounter with another man, have testified
that he never harboured anti-gay sentiments.

Taking the stand in the trial of 20-year-old Ravi for the
defence, which began its case in a New Jersey court, were
seven character witnesses, who were acquaintances of the
former Rutgers University student and his father.

They testified that they had never heard Ravi say
anything bad or negative about gay people.

"I never heard him say anything about homosexuals or
anyone who might be homosexual," Sandeep Sharma, an executive
at an IT company where Ravi had once interned, testified
yesterday.

Ravi faces 15 counts, including charges of invasion of
privacy and bias intimidation for spying on his roommate Tyler
Clementi as he was being intimate with another man.

Clementi committed suicide in September 2010, days after
he found out that Ravi had watched him through his webcam
while he was with the other man.

The defence has tried to portray Ravi as an "immature"
young boy who meant no harm to Clementi when he set up a
webcam to spy on him.

On cross-examination by prosecutor Julia McClure, the
witnesses conceded that they had not discussed the topic of
homosexuality with Ravi around the time of Clementi`s death.

"Why would that come up?" said Anil Kappa, a business
partner of Ravi`s father. "No, we never discussed
homosexuality."

The testimony of the seven character witnesses, all
middle-aged men, was completed in an hour.

During the trial yesterday, Ravi`s lawyer Steven Altman
interrogated Frank DiNinno of the Middlesex County
prosecutor`s office about how he conducted 32 interviews for
the case, many of them with Ravi`s friends.

Altman asked DiNinno whether in his interviews he had
asked if Ravi had shown "any kind of bias toward homosexuals
or gays."

"As part of the fact-finding process, yes," DiNinno said.
"We wanted to learn everything."

The trial was adjourned for the weekend before any
details emerged.

Altman said he has not yet decided whether Ravi would
testify in the trial, which could last 3-4 weeks.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, March 10, 2012 - 13:04

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