I don’t care if you’re 18, 8, or 81. No excuses for the actions of these two Rutgers freshman against fellow human being Tyler Clementi. I hope they each get five years and a complete loss of self, face, privacy, and comfort. I’m sure your parents really felt great putting the money they earned dealing with minority prejudice toward your undeserved bails.
PISCATAWAY — A Rutgers University freshman appears to have killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate broadcast live images of the 18-year-old having a sexual encounter with another man on the internet, according to campus and law enforcement sources.
Tyler Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, is presumed dead after his car, cell phone and computer were found near the George Washington Bridge last week, law enforcement sources said. His wallet was found on the walkway adjacent to the New York-bound lanes. In a statement released this afternoon, Clementi’s family confirmed the suicide and said his body has not been found.
Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, and Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for setting up a camera in a dorm room on Sept. 19 and using it to view and transmit a live sex scene, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
Paul Mainardi of Woodbury, the Clementi family’s attorney, said Ravi and Clementi were roommates at Rutgers.
Ravi’s Twitter feed on that date referred to seeing his roommate have sex with another man in their room on the Piscataway campus, classmates said.
“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.
Two days later, Ravi posted another entry directing his nearly 150 Twitter followers to iChat, an internet messaging service with a live video feed.
“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 in the Sept. 21 post.
Ravi’s Twitter feed has since been taken down. But the entries survived in a cached version of the page still available through Google’s search engine this afternoon.
Prosecutors said Ravi and Wei set up a camera on Sept. 19 and broadcast live images of Clementi having a “sexual encounter.” Ravi is also accused of trying unsuccessfully to broadcast a second sex scene Sept. 21.
The Clementi family released a statement this afternoon. “Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician. The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve their great loss and that their privacy at this painful time be respected by all,” it said.
“The family and their representatives are cooperating fully with the ongoing criminal investigations of two Rutgers University students,” the statement said.
Clementi was an accomplished violinist who had received a college scholarship from the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra for his musicianship and leadership.
The violinist left a lasting impression with some in the Bergen County town, said Hiro Kagei, 17, who played in the orchestra with the teenager. A solo Clementi played in a concert last year “blew the audience away,” he said.
“Now that he’ dead, it’s sad to think we won’t hear something like that anymore,” Kagei said.
On the Rutgers campus, classmates described Clementi as quiet. At a mandatory dorm meeting called the day he was reported missing, only three students said they had spoken to Clementi since they moved into the dorm last month, according to students who were at the meeting.
Ravi and Wei — who were classmates at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North before enrolling at Rutgers this fall — did not respond to e-mail requests to comment Tuesday. Steve Altman, Ravi’s attorney, also declined to comment.
Ravi surrendered to Rutgers police Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bail, the prosecutor’s office said. Wei surrendered to the campus police Monday and was released on her own recognizance.
Under New Jersey’s invasion-of-privacy laws, it is a fourth degree crime to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person’s consent, the prosecutor said. It is a third degree crime to transmit or distribute the images.
If the students are convicted on a third degree offense they could face up to five years in prison each under state law. Conviction on a fourth-degree crime could lead to probation or up to 18 months in prison.