Did Tyler Clementi Reach Out for Help Before Suicide?

Sep 30th 2010 – 4:33PM
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David Lohr

AOL Canada
(Sept. 30) -- The Rutgers University student who committed suicide after two students allegedly streamed a video of his gay sexual encounter over the Internet may have reached out for help before killing himself.

A message board thread on justusboys.com contains several messages by a user identified as "cit2mo," who is believed to be 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, the Manhattan news website Gawker reported.
This undated photo from Facebook shows Tyler Clementi, who allegedly committed suicide after two Rutgers University students taped him having sex.
On Wednesday, Middlesex County, N.J., prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced the arrests of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18. The Rutgers freshmen have been charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for allegedly using a camera to view and transmit a live image of Clementi on Sept. 19.

Ravi has also been charged with two additional counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly attempting to use the camera to view and transmit another encounter involving Clementi on Sept. 21, the same day that cit2mo started a now defunct thread titled "college roommate spying" on justusboys.com.

"So the other night I had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him," cit2mo wrote. "I checked his twitter today. He tweeted that I was using the room ... and that he went into somebody else's room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy."

Cit2mo added: "So my question is what next? I could just be more careful next time. ... [But] I'm [kind of] p----- at him. ... It would be nice to get him in trouble but [I don't know if] I have enough to get him in trouble."

The situation described by cit2mo, as well as the dates of the posts, appear to match the issues that Clementi was dealing with, indicating that he was most likely the person responsible for the posts, Gawker reported.

On Wednesday, The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., cited a now defunct Twitter profile that Ravi allegedly used in which a poster made a tweet on Sept. 19, saying that his roommate had asked to use their room until midnight.

"I went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay," the message read.

A similar tweet, on Sept. 22, mentioned the instant message/live feed service iChat.

"Roommate asked for room again. Its happening again. People with iChat don't you dare video chat me from 930 to 12," the message read.

The Twitter message was posted on the same day that cit2mo posted the following message to justusboys.com:

"So I wanted to have the guy over again. I texted roomie around 7 asking for the room later tonight and he said it was fine. When I got back to the room I instantly noticed he had turned the webcam toward my bed. And he had posted online again saying 'anyone want a free show just video chat me tonight' or something similar to that."

Cit2mo goes on to say that he contacted his resident assistant. "We'll see what happens," the poster wrote. Cit2mo also said that talking to his roommate "didn't seem like an option" and that the second occurrence "set me off."

The last post by cit2mo was made on Sept. 22. In it, he said that he had provided a written statement about the incidents to officials at the college and that they "seemed to take it seriously."

Not long after that post by cit2mo, Clementi posted his last message to his Facebook profile, according to WPIX-TV and The Star-Ledger.

"Jumping off the gw bridge sorry," Clementi wrote.

Clementi is believed to have jumped off the George Washington Bridge shortly after the message was posted. A body recovered from the Hudson River on Wednesday was positively identified today as his, according to several local media reports.

Through a statement issued by a lawyer, Clementi's family confirmed that he had committed suicide.

"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," the Clementi family said.

"His privacy was violated, very, very violated," Rutgers student Daryl Chan told The Herald News, a New Jersey newspaper. "His roommate was a very tech-savvy-type dude. He set up cameras all over the room and didn't tell him. A lot of the RAs are troubled by it."

Other friends described Clementi to the newspaper as a gifted musician who had won several scholarships and awards for his musical abilities.

"He was so incredibly talented. I could not believe how good he was for such a young boy," Diane Wade, a violinist with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, told The Herald News. "Such a nice kid all the way around. ... As a parent, he was the way you want your kids to be -- polite, courteous, serious about the work he was doing and a hard worker."

In an e-mail to AOL News, Clementi's friend Blake McCrossin says he can sympathize with his friend's situation.

"I remember telling him how I felt when I was 18, freshman in college, and I too was fearful of how my friends would change if they knew I was gay," McCrossin said. "Little did I know one who was most judgmental about my sexuality was myself. So, when people say, 'Why would he kill himself over this?' I can sympathize with the fear that Tyler felt. ... We truly need to realize that diversity is a part of this world."

A friend of Ravi's told the New York Daily News that he was an outgoing ping-pong player and Frisbee enthusiast who enjoyed pranks.

"I think he's a good person," Michael Zhuang, 17, a neighbor and former classmate, told the newspaper. "I don't think he's a homophobe. It would've been no different if it was a girl in the room."

Ravi's friends have made similar statements to The Star-Ledger and have claimed that Ravi told them he had accidentally turned on the webcam in his room while he was in Wei's dorm room and that he shut it off when he saw Clementi in a sexual encounter.

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Ravi's attorney has not responded to requests for comment on the case.

In a statement sent to AOL News, Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said that the college would not comment on the specifics of the case but said that if the allegations are true, they "gravely violate the university's standards of decency and humanity."

Ravi is free on $25,000 bail, and Wei is free on her own recognizance, pending their next court appearance. If convicted, each of the students faces a prison term of up to five years.
Copyright: (C) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/termsofuse.html