Companion of Tyler Clementi lives in ‘substantial fear’ of having his privacy invaded
Posted on February 23, 2012 by Richard Pompelio
Originally posted at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/10/in_court_papers_companion_of_t.html
NEW BRUNSWICK — More than a year after Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi was seen kissing a male date on a webcam, the public still doesn’t know the identity of the other man in the high-profile case. But the young gay man lives in terror his name will leak out and “the harm will be irreversible,” he said in court papers filed today.
The man — known only as M.B. in court papers — made his first public statement in a motion filed by his attorney in New Brunswick. M.B. asked a judge to reverse an earlier order to turn over his name to defense attorneys in the case against the former Rutgers student accused of spying on him and Clementi.
“I have a substantial fear that the release of this personal information will result in a total invasion of my privacy,” M.B. told the judge in a written statement. “It is difficult for me to describe this fear. It is continuous and overwhelming.”
Clementi had just started his freshman year at Rutgers when he invited M.B. to his dorm room on the Piscataway campus. Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s roommate, allegedly went to a friend’s room, remotely turned on the webcam on his computer and watched the two shirtless men hugging and kissing.
Ravi, of Plainsboro, posted on Twitter that he saw his roommate “making out with a dude. Yay.” A few days later, he tried unsuccessfully to use the webcam to spy on Clementi and M.B. a second time, investigators said.
Clementi, of Ridgewood, learned about the webcam and filed a complaint with Rutgers officials on Sept. 22, 2010. A few hours later, he jumped off the George Washington Bridge in a suicide that made international headlines.
Before his death, Clementi told friends M.B. was in his 20s and was uncomfortable with others knowing he is gay.
The intense media interest in Clementi’s death, which helped put a spotlight on gay suicide and cyber-bullying, is one of the reasons M.B. doesn’t want his identity revealed, said Richard Pompelio, his attorney.
“This case is covered all over the country,” Pompelio said. “It will be a feeding frenzy.”
Though M.B.’s name is known to prosecutors, his identity has been withheld in court because he is considered a crime victim. Last month, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman ruled prosecutors had to turn over M.B.’s name, address and birth date to Ravi, his attorney and his investigator.
“I have to fairly balance M.B.’s right to privacy and Mr. Ravi’s right to defend himself against these charges,” Berman said at the time.
The judge gave prosecutors seven days to give M.B.’s name to Ravi and his attorney, warning them not to leak his identity to the public. But Berman delayed the release a few days later after M.B. asked for a chance to argue his case, Pompelio said.
M.B. retained Pompelio, the head of the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center, as his attorney. Pompelio said he is representing M.B. as a pro bono case.
Pompelio declined to reveal anything about M.B.’s identity or personal life, except to say he is a “remarkable, wonderful young man.” According to the court papers, M.B. has no criminal record.
In his statement, M.B. said he doesn’t want to be “victimized” by the judicial process.
“Tyler Clementi’s life has been lost. This is a loss to the whole of society,” M.B. said. “I pray that this court will fully consider the further pain that will be caused to me and to my family and others if my personal information is made available.”
Steve Altman, Ravi’s attorney, said his client deserves to know M.B.’s identity.
“I don’t understand why this gentleman is being treated differently than anybody else who has ever complained about being a victim in any court in New Jersey,” Altman said.
The judge is expected to rule on releasing M.B.’s identity at an Oct. 20 hearing. Berman is also expected to set a trial date in the case.
Ravi, 19, is charged with 15 counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation for allegedly targeting Clementi because he was gay. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges.
In other developments, Ravi’s attorney filed his own motion today asking the judge to recuse himself from the case. The motion cited a New York Times article from last month that quoted Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, the creator of “H8R,” a new reality show on the CW network about people who use the internet to spew hatred about celebrities.
In the story, Gregorish-Dempsey said she has a personal interest in internet bullying because she has a gay nephew and her cousin, Berman, is the judge in the Ravi case. Ravi’s attorney said the judge should remove himself from the case because of his connection to the reality show. Berman is expected to consider the motion at next week’s hearing.
By Kelly Heyboer and Sue Epstein/The Star-Ledger
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