Privacy Law

Prosecutor Weighs Hate Crime Charges Against Classmates Accused of Secretly Streaming Sex Encounter

Updated: Two classmates are accused of secretly live-streaming a New Jersey college student’s gay sexual encounter days before he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River.

Gay rights advocates are calling the death of Tyler Clementi a hate crime and an example of the effects of intolerance, report the New York Times, the New Jersey Star-Ledger and the Associated Press. Clementi’s roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi, and another classmate, 18-year-old Molly Wei, are charged with invasion of privacy in the Internet broadcast.

Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan is weighing whether there’s enough evidence to add bias crime charges, the New York Daily News reports.

The Times published a Twitter message from Sept. 19, allegedly sent by Ravi before the webcast. “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.” He is also charged with trying to live-stream a second sexual encounter two days later; Wei was not charged in the second incident.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, issued a statement saying he considered the death a hate crime. “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,” he said.

Last updated Oct. 1 to add information that the prosecutor’s office is considering hate crime charges against the students.

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