New Jersey prosecutors said Thursday they are determining whether additional charges, including bias, may be brought against two Rutgers University students accused of invading the privacy of fellow student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another man was streamed online.
”The initial focus of this investigation has been to determine who was responsible for remotely activating the camera in the dormitory room of the student and then transmitting the encounter on the Internet,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J Kaplan said.
”Now that two individuals have been charged with invasion of privacy, we will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges,” Kaplan said in a statement.
Under New Jersey law, a person is guilty of bias intimidation if he or she commits a crime with the purpose of intimidating someone because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ethnicity; or if the victim or victim’s property was selected as a target because of the same factors.
On the evening of September 19, Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is believed to have sent a message by Twitter about his roommate, Clementi.
“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, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, surreptitiously placed the camera in their dorm room and broadcast video of Clementi’s sexual encounter on the internet, the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office said. Ravi tried to use the webcam again two days later, on September 21.
“Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again,” Ravi is believed to have tweeted.
The next day, Clementi was dead.
Authorities said the 18-year-old freshman committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. A law enforcement source told CNN that Clementi’s wallet and cell phone were found on the bridge.