Rutgers Trial to Hear Secret Witness, Tyler Clementi's Gay Date

ABC News

Prosecutors and court officials in the Rutgers invasion of privacy trial have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the identity of a key witness anonymous, even during his upcoming testimony.

A gay man identified only by his initial "M.B." is expected to testify as early as today in the trial of Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers student who is on trial for allegedly using his webcam to peek at freshman roommate Tyler Clementi as he kissed M.B., and allegedly urging other friends and students to watch.

Clementi, who was 18, committed suicide a few days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, and his case was cited by activists as an example of anti-gay bullying.

Besides invasion of privacy, Ravi, who is now 20, is charged with bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest.

M.B.'s identity has not been revealed and even Ravi's defense lawyers had to argue to get his name. The defense was finally given M.B.'s name on the condition that it not be revealed. The jury also knows the identity of M.B., but have been prohibited from disclosing his name.

The judge has allowed cameras in the courtroom and the trial is live-streamed on several Web sites, including ABCNews.com. But when M.B. testifies, the media has been ordered to train the pool camera on M.B.'s hands and not his face. Audio from the court will also be turned off.

 

Watch live stream of the Rutgers trial.

While the press in the courtroom will see and hear M.B., the witness will not enter or leave the courtroom through public hallways, and instead will enter the courtroom through a secure entrance.

M.B. has been described as a man about 30 and a bit hefty. His identity is being protected because he is being treated as a victim of the alleged crime and he is not out as a gay man.

M.B. and Clementi met on the online gay meeting site Adam4Adam. The two had a rendezvous in Clementi's Rutgers dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010 and again on Sept. 21.

Follow the Rutgers trial with @mckoenigs

He is expected to testify about his relationship with Clementi, what he and Clementi knew about the webcam and Clementi's reaction to his roommate.

Testimony so far has featured Ravi's classmates describing how he tweeted about Clementi's gay dates and urged them to also watch.

Those classmates have also repeatedly said that Ravi had not expressed any anti-gay feelings or disdain for Clementi for being gay. They said he was more concerned that Clementi's date was older and apparently not a Rutgers student who might steal his iPad.

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