On this day one year ago, Tyler Clementi — an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University — jumped to his death from the George Washington bridge after a sexual encounter he had with another man was allegedly streamed online by his roommate.
Tyler was a gifted and award-winning violinist, who played with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra and participated in the Bergen Youth Orchestra as concertmaster.
Tyler’s death was the third in what would become a spate of suicides among gay, or perceived gay, teens that occurred in September and October 2010, and the first to gain international attention and be reported extensively by mainstream media due to the impact of bullying and cyber-bullying of the victims.
Two Rutgers University students — Dharun Ravi, Tyler’s roommate, and Molly Wei — allegedly placed a camera in Tyler’s dorm room and streamed the images onto the internet on Sept. 19.
Ravi was also accused of setting up his webcam to try to capture Tyler in a second liaison two days later.
On Sept. 22, 2010, Tyler left a final goodbye on his Facebook page that read “jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”
Police recovered Tyler’s body on September 29 in the Hudson River just north of the bridge.
Since Tyler’s suicide, New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was passed and signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January. Advocates say it’s one of the toughest laws of its kind in the nation.
On April 20, Ravi received a 15-count indictment, including a charge of the hate crime of bias intimidation, for his alleged actions that led to Tyler’s death, and for trying to cover up it up afterward.
Weeks later, Wei struck a plea deal to avoid jail time on the condition she testifies against Ravi.
Earlier this year, Tyler parents, Jane and Joseph Clementi, announced plans to start the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which will focus on promoting awareness of bullying, particularly cyber-bullying.