gay Rutgers student filmed having sex commits suicide, 2 charged with filming
A Rutgers University freshman who had his privacy violated after two classmates allegedly filmed him during a "sexual encounter" and posted it on the Internet committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, authorities said.
Tyler Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, NJ, is believed to have jumped from the bridge last Wednesday night after learning that the images of him with a man had been streamed live on the Internet, authorities said today.
Clementi had shockingly posted the message, at 8:50 P.M., "jumping off the gw bridge sorry," on his Facebook page last week, according to a student who knew him.
That student said that Clementi, who lived in the same dorm, had posted that message just two minutes after installing an application on his handheld device that allowed him to send messages to Facebook from that device.
"He was a shy guy," the student said. "He seemed like a nice guy. From conversation with him, it seemed like he needed someone to open up to."
Two other Rutgers students, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18, have been charged with illegally taping another student having sex and posting the images on the Internet.
Clementi's car was reportedly found nearby with his cell phone and computer inside, authorities told WPIX-TV.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office charged Ravi and Wei with invasion of privacy for allegedly placing a camera inside the student's dorm room.
Three days before the suicide, Ravi posted on his Twitter account that Clementi, his roommate, wanted some privacy.
"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," he wrote.
Collecting or viewing sexual images without consent is a fourth-degree crime. Transmitting them is a third-degree crime with a maximum prison term of five years.
An investigation began after someone alerted the campus police that the camera had been placed in the student's dorm room without permission, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
The tip led to the arrest of Wei and Ravi.
Kaplan said the pair used the camera to view and transmit a live image of the student on Sept. 19.
Ravi has been charged with two additional counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly trying to transmit another encounter involving the same student on Sept. 21.
Ravi was freed on $25,000 bail and Wei was released on her own recognizance after the suspects surrendered to campus police.
In a statement Rutgers University spokeswoman Sandy Lanman said the school "takes these matters seriously and has policies to deal with student behavior."
Clementi's family refused to answer their door today when a reporter knocked this afternoon.
In a statement, the family said it "is heartbroken beyond words."
A friend of Clementi described him as a gifted musician who kept to himself.
"He was quiet, very polite and a wonderful violinist," said a friend, who did not want to be named. "I didn't know anything about his personal life. He was very reserved. He was very well-regarded. He played all through high school. As far as I know he was looking forward to college. This is terribly sad. I can't imagine how devastated his family is."
Lauren Garcia, 18, a biology major, said she saw Clementi at 5 p.m. the day he disappeared as he was leaving the dorm.
"He had his iPod in his ear and just had this blank stare on his face. I smiled at him and he smiled back at me," she said. "It's really devastating ... we weren't even here a whole month and somebody's gone."