Creating national awareness about bullying of young gays, the court case of former Rutgers student, 19-year-old Dharun Ravi, has begun its opening statements.
The case began after Ravi watched his roommate, Tyler Clementi, during an intimate encounter with another man from a webcam. Clementi committed suicide in September 2010 following Ravi's posting of information about the encounter online.
Ravi faces 15 criminal charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.
As Ravi's parents supported him from the second row, prosecutor Julia McClure told jurors in her opening statement that Ravi began telling friends he was unhappy to have a gay roommate soon after he got his first-year housing assignment in August 2010, according to The Associated Press.
Authorities say Ravi used the webcam on his computer to watch Clementi from another room when he had asked to have the room to himself to have company over.
Ravi tweeted: Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned on the webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.
Two nights later, Ravi attempted to spy on Clementi a second time when he asked to have the room again and invited his twitter followers to watch as well. Clementi discovered the plan and pulled the plug from the computer before anything was seen. The next day, Clementi, 18, jumped from the George Washington Bridge after updating his Facebook status to Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.
Clementi's parents said he told them about his sexual orientation before he moved into Rutgers, according to The AP.
The trial has gone forward only because Ravi rejected a plea bargain offer that would have kept him out of jail and lowered the possibility of him being deported to India, where he is a citizen.
The other man in the video, identified only as M.B., could have a significant impact on the trial if brought in as a witness.
The trial should last three to four weeks and is expected to analyze text messages, tweets and online chats between Clementi and Ravi. Prosecutors plan to call 23 witnesses to the stand, including several of Ravi's friends.
According to The Star-Ledger, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman excused one of the jurors before the opening statements began because the juror informed the court that he needed to amend an answer on the 17-page questionnaire all the potential jurors had to fill out. Fifteen jurors remain to hear the case.
Support for Clementi has popped up across the nation, including several Facebook groups in his honor.