RIDGEWOOD (New Jersey): A college student jumped to his death off a bridge a day after authorities say two classmates surreptitiously recorded him having sex with a man in his dorm room and broadcast it over the Internet.
Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge, said his family’s attorney, Paul Mainardi.
ABC News and The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Clementi left on his Facebook page on Sept 22 a note that read: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” On Wednesday, his Facebook page was accessible only to friends.
Two Rutgers freshmen have been charged with illegally taping the 18-year-old Clementi having sex and broadcasting the images via an Internet chat program.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said in a statement on Wednesday that his group considers Clementi’s death a hate crime.
“We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind,” Goldstein said.
“And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport.”
On the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, there was dismay over Clementi’s death and the circumstances that led to it.
“As a dorm we’re really angry,” said student Jordan Gochman, 19, who didn’t know Clementi. “The notion that video of Tyler doing what he was doing can be considered a spectacle is just heinous. It’s intolerant, it’s upsetting, it makes it seem that being gay is something that is wrong and can be considered laughable.”
One of the defendants, Dharun Ravi, was Clementi’s roommate, Mainardi told The Star-Ledger. The other defendant is Molly Wei. Ravi and Wei could face up to five years in prison if they’re convicted.
A lawyer for Ravi did not immediately return a message seeking comment. It was unclear whether Wei had retained a lawyer.
The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office charged the pair, both 18, with two counts apiece of invasion of privacy, claiming they used the webcam to view and transmit a live image of Clementi on Sept 19.
Ravi was also charged with two more counts of invasion of privacy alleging he tried to transmit another encounter of Clementi on Sept 21.
A Twitter account belonging to a Ravi was recently deleted, but in a cached version retained through Google he sent a message on Sept 19: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
Two days later, he wrote on Twitter: “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9.30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.”
Clementi’s driver’s licence and Rutgers ID were found in a wallet left on the bridge on Sept 22 after two witnesses saw someone jump from it, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Mainardi issued a statement on Wednesday confirming Clementi’s suicide. — AP