A Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death last week, just days after his college roommate broadcast live images on the internet of him having a sexual encounter with another man.
Tyler Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, NJ, is presumed dead after his car, cell phone and computer were found near the George Washington Bridge last week. According to law enforcement officials, his wallet was found on a nearby walkway.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Clementi’s family confirmed the suicide and said his body has not been found.
ABC News reported that Clementi left a final goodbye on his Facebook page on September 22 that read “jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”
While investigators have not confirmed the suicide because no body has been found, sources within the investigation have told local media that witnesses say they saw him jump.
Fellow students Dharun Ravi, who was Clementi’s roommate, and Molly Wei, have been charged with invasion of privacy and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
They are accused of placing a camera in the room and streaming the images onto the internet.
Prosecutors said Ravi and Wei set up a camera on Sept. 19 and broadcast live images of Clementi having a “sexual encounter” with another man. Ravi is also accused of trying unsuccessfully to broadcast a second sex scene Sept. 21.
“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,” Ravi said on his Twitter page in a Sept. 19 entry posted at 6:17 p.m. [New Jersey Star-Ledger]
Ravi allegedly broadcast that encounter but investigators would not say what video site it was posted to.
A few days later Ravi allegedly tweeted to his 150 followers telling them to “chat” him on iChat, an instant messaging sight with live video feed, the Star-Ledger reported.
“Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again,” Ravi wrote Sept. 21.
The next day Clementi’s belongings were found on the bridge.
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 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,” Goldstein said.
“Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician,” said Paul Mainardi, the Clementi’s family attorney, in a brief statement. “The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve.”
Update, 9/30/10: A body found in the Hudson River off New York City was identified Thursday as that of Tyler Clementi. Story here.