Gay rights groups say Rutgers suicide a hate crime

Thu. September 30, 2010 6:37 PM by News Staff

tyler clementi

The story of the gay Rutgers student who committed suicide after an intimate encounter was shown on the Internet now has gay rights groups asking if this was a hate crime.

Tyler Clementi, 18, killed himself after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, and another Rutgers student, Molly Wei, both 18, used a hidden webcam to tape him having gay sex.

Ravi and Wei have been charged with invading Clementi's privacy, which can include up to five years in jail.

New Jersey has one of the strictest hate crime laws in the nation, and gay rights groups are urging the Middlesex Country prosecutor to charge the pair with a hate crime, which would raise the maximum penalty to 10 years.

"We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind," Steven Goldstein, chairman of New Jersey-based Garden State Equality, said in a statement. "And 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."

Goldstein's group considers Clementi's death a hate crime.