Tyler Clementi’s suicide has stunned the nation and brought to the forefront once again the often painful journey that gay individuals endure. Clementi, an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University, jumped off the George Washington Bridge when he learned that his roommate Dharun Ravi streamed a sexual encounter of him with another man on the internet.
Ravi and his friend, Molly Wei are the two students responsible for taping Clementi’s sexual encounter. Apparently, Ravi, who is an Arts and Sciences student, went to Wei’s dorm room after leaving his webcam on in his and Clementi’s dorm room. From Wei’s room, Ravi logged onto his Skype account and recorded the encounter.
Both Wei, a pharmacy student, and Ravi are each being charged with two counts of invasion of privacy. In the state of New Jersey, it is considered a fourth-degree crime to view or collect nude or sexual imagery of another without that individual’s consent while it is a third-degree crime to transmit or distribute those images.
As such, both Wei and Ravi could face up to five years in prison in addition to possibly being charged with a hate crime.
Clementi’s suicide has sparked a massive response from the nation who are mostly sympathetic with the young teen’s turmoil and strife that he must have faced.
Here are a few of the comments from Clementi’s teachers, friends, activists, celebrities and more.
Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard who was murdered 12 years ago for being openly gay:
“I hope they (Ravi and Wei) are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. What they did was reckless, thoughtless and hateful.”
Additionally Judy said that Clementi’s parents have her deepest sympathies, adding, “Only they know the true soul of their son, and that is what they need to hold in their hearts now.”
Khullip Jeung (Clementi’s violin teacher of five years):
“He was a quiet person, but when he picked up his violin, it was a different story.”
Click here to view CBS’ exclusive video of Tyler Clementi playing violin as well as video on Judy Shepard’s thoughts:
Ed Schmiedecke, Retired Music Director at Clementi’s High School:
“He was a terrific musician, and a very promising, hardworking young man.”
Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (resigned after he announced he was a “gay American”):
McGreevey said that he is “filled with great sadness” at the suicide of Tyler Clementi and that technology has its own “sad travail”. McGreevey also believes that more needs to be done to “hold adults accountable.”
Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality:
“…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.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:
Governor Christie has said the suicide of Tyler Clementi an “unspeakable tragedy.”
Additionally, Christie said that he has no idea how Ravi and Wei can sleep “knowing that they contributed to driving that young man” to suicide.
Christina Guentert (School Friend of Tyler Clementi’s): (Guentert wrote an email to ABC News)
“I am just devastated that this happened, especially to such an amazing person. Tyler was a remarkable person in many ways; he was always kind, generous, sweet and loyal.
“He always had a smile on his face, and would joke around with me during class even on bad days. Tyler came off as innocent and sweet, the kind of person that you could rely on and go to for anything.”
“Not only was Tyler incredibly intelligent, but he was an amazing violin player. He stood out at every school concert, and never seemed to get nervous. The music really came from his heart.”
Actress Sophia Bush from “One Tree Hill” wrote on her Twitter account:
“Anyone out there who thinks being a bully makes you cool? Wake up. It makes you a LOSER.”
Bush has created the Twitter account @MissUSethWalsh in honor of the late teen who also committed suicide over his sexual orientation. “Cool means doing good things for people. ALL people.”
Talk Show Host Ellen DeGeneres:
“One life lost in this senseless way is tragic. Four lives lost is a crisis,” DeGeneres was blogging in reference to the suicides of Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, and Billy Lucas.
“And these are just the stories we hear about. How many other teens have we lost? How many others are suffering in silence? Being a teenager and figuring out who you are is hard enough without someone attacking you. “
Sources: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1649120/20100930/degeneres_ellen.jhtml, http://abcnews.go.com/US/suicide-rutgers-university-freshman-tyler-clementi-stuns-veteran/story?id=11763784, http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=120655&catid=288, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/09/30/national/main6914293.shtml