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New Jersey Student Jumps To Death After Gay Sex Video Appears On Net

PISCATAWAY, 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
PTI September 30, 2010 11:04 IST
PTI
PISCATAWAY, 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 last week, said his family's attorney, Paul Mainardi. Police recovered a man's body Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River just north of the bridge, and authorities were trying to determine if it was Clementi's.

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 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.

"We are profoundly saddened by this report, and our hearts and prayers are with the parents, family, and friends of this young man, who had started at Rutgers this semester as a first-year student on the New Brunswick campus," university president Richard McCormick wrote in a letter to the campus. "If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university's standards of decency and humanity."

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 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 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."

On campus and off, Clementi's story gained sympathy after word of his death spread.

A vigil was planned for Wednesday night. And a Facebook group, In Honor of Tyler Clementi, was quickly set up and by Wednesday had drawn nearly 3,000 people, many of whom posted remembrances of Clementi or expressions of shock over the death of the young man pictured playing his violin.

"You will never be forgotten Tyler," Samantha Hoffer commented. "I am so glad to have known such an amazing and talented person in my life. Rest in peace."

Gay rights groups say Clementi's death is the latest example of a long-standing problem: young people who kill themselves because they're bullied about being gay _ regardless of whether they are.

Last week, Dan Savage, a columnist at the Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger, launched the It Gets Better Project, a YouTube channel where gay, lesbian and bisexual adults share the turmoil they experienced when they were younger _ and show how their lives have gotten better.

In response to Clementi's death and others, the group Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays said it would issue a "call to action" on the topic. AP