- Associated Press - Friday, March 2, 2012

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A man who witnesses say was watched via webcam while kissing a Rutgers University student who later committed suicide took the stand Friday, telling jurors he noticed the webcam while the two were being intimate.

“I had just glanced over my shoulder and I noticed there was a webcam that was faced toward the direction of the bed,” said the man, identified only by the initials M.B. “Just being in a compromising position and seeing a camera lens — it just stuck out to me.”

The man testified that he had met Tyler Clementi in August 2010 through a social networking site for gay men. They chatted online initially, he said, and their first in-person meeting was in Clementi’s dorm room on Sept. 16 — three days before the alleged spying. Clementi killed himself days later.

The man’s testimony came in the trial of Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, who is charged with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other crimes.

The judge did not allow photographs of M.B. to be taken in the courthouse, barred any audio or video of him to be taken and said that he would be identified in court only by his initials. The man’s lawyer had successfully fought to conceal his identity because he’s considered a victim of an alleged sex crime.

Jurors were given his whole name to make sure none knew him.

On Friday, the trim young man appeared in court in a button-down shirt, and did not match the description of the overweight “sketchy” or “homeless”-looking man that students had reported seeing visit Clementi. His hair was closely cropped and he didn’t have the goatee that some described seeing him have.

Because of the secrecy surrounding the man’s identity, there was an unusually large media contingent packed into the Middlesex County Courthouse for what was already a high-profile trial.

But in a little more than 30 minutes of direct-examination, not much light was shed on who he is.

His lawyer, Richard Pompelio of the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center, said he’s in his 20’s. He said he doesn’t believe he’s married and did not know whether he was out as a gay man.

“He’s a fine young man who came here under horrible circumstances to tell the truth,” Pompelio said outside the courtroom during a break in testimony.

He said that M.B. had a fledgling relationship with Clementi and learned about his death from hearing it on the radio.

In court, M.B. himself said he lived about a 20-minute drive from Clementi’s dorm and was starting a new job on Sept. 20, 2010.

He testified that he met Clementi in his dorm room three times. The first was on Sept. 16, when he said Ravi was not expected home until the middle of the night. He said he was careful to leave before Ravi was expected to return to the room. “I made sure to leave well before 2 a.m. as to not cause any conflict,” he said.

The second was Sept. 19, the date of the alleged spying — and the time he said he noticed the webcam.

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