A student who illicitly streamed a room-mate’s sexual encounters live over the Internet is facing criminal charges after the room-mate responded by committing suicide.
The incident unfolded at the New Jersey campus dorms of Rutgers University, where two 18-year-old male students were sharing a room together.
One of the students, Tyler Clementi, used the room as a venue for his homosexual encounters with other men, which his room-mate apparently decided it would be interesting to secretly film using a webcam.
The student accused of filming the incident apparently used a now deleted Twitter account to make live streams of his room-mate available to his 148 followers:
“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.”
“Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.”
The filmed student is suspected of having complained about the incident on a gay website, becoming particularly upset after commenters expressed sympathy for his room-mate’s having to put up with his homosexual sex sessions:
“People have commented on his profile with things like ‘how did you manage to go back in there? are you okay?’ and the fact that people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal, whereas I mean come on… he was SPYING ON ME…do they see nothing wrong with this?”
After this he was apparently overcome with shame and committed suicide by hurling himself from the local George Washington Bridge – in keeping with the web-centric tone of the story he even updated his Facebook page to tell his friends what he was up to:
“Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
It seems he did not attempt to report the incident to authorities – only after his suicide was investigated did the events come to light. Police soon took action against his room-mate and the girl from whose room he orchestrated the spying.
New Jersey state law criminalises voyeurism as invasion of privacy, and distributing images of nudity or sex without the consent of participants can carry up to a 5 year sentence. Both students have been charged and released pending trial.
The university reports it will be attempting to prevent future re-occurrences by introducing a programme of “civility” training for students, one of the tenets of which will apparently be to not film people having sex without their permission.
Rutgers University already has some notoriety as a leaked sex-tape hotspot – minor Internet celebrity accrued to an earlier vengefully leaked tape featuring a Rutgers student identified as “Julie,” although with no allegations of gay victimhood involved this incident is apparently a non-issue.
Psychiatrists have speculated that the suicide might have been the result of an undiagnosed mental illness, whilst gay rights groups have called it a hate crime against homosexuals.
Online the incident has predictably proved highly emotive, with responses ranging from denouncing the filmers as murdering hate criminals deserving a one-way trip to the gallows, to denouncing the university as a pernicious den of iniquity in which depraved acts of sodomy are lauded as normal behaviour.