Hudson River Body Identified as Rutgers Student

Prosecutors mulling bias-crime charges.

By Brian Thompson and Hasani Gittens
|  Friday, Oct 1, 2010  |  Updated 6:55 AM EDT
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Tyler Clementi killed himself after being livestreamed on the web having sex.

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 A body found in the Hudson River off New York City has been identified as that of a Rutgers University student whose sexual encounter was allegedly secretly streamed online.

And in a new development, Middlesex County prosecutors said late Thursday that  they are mulling bias charges against the fellow students who allegedly invaded tragic Tyler Clementi's privacy.

The New York City medical examiner's office confirmed on Thursday that 18-year-old Clementi committed suicide. Spokeswoman Grace Burgess says he drowned and had impact injuries on his torso.

On Wednesday, at approximately 1:20 p.m., police in the 34th Precinct responded to a call of a body in the water. The New York City Police Department's Harbor Unit responded and brought ashore the body at West 218 Street and Indian Hill Road.

A family lawyer had already said Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge, but officials at the time had not identified the body.

Clementi's roommate at New Jersey's Rutgers University and another freshman have been charged with invading the teen's privacy.

Prosecutors say they used a webcam to surreptitiously transmit a live image of Clementi having sex in his dorm room on Sept. 19.

Law enforcement officials tell NBCNewYork that authorities are working to determine whether the suicide was a result of Clementi the being emotionally pushed over the edge by the sex-taping crime.

Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, and Molly Wei, of Princeton, both 18, face two counts of invasion of privacy for secretly placing a camera in the victim's dorm room and streaming it live.  

Authorities say Ravi, who was Clementi's roommate, faces another two counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly trying to use the hidden camera to tape the same victim in a previous encounter two days before the second one hit the web.

Wei surrendered to campus cops in New Brunswick on Monday and was released on her own recognizance. Ravi turned himself in Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bail.

According to the Associated Press, a Twitter account belonging to Ravi was recently deleted, but in a cached version retained through Google he sent a message on Sept. 19: "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."

Two days later, he wrote on Twitter: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."

Steven Goldstein, Chair of the New Jersey gay-rights group Garden State Equality, has called Clementi's death a hate crime.

"The New Jersey hate crimes law encompasses invasion of privacy and exactly the kind of situation that Tyler Clementi faced,: said Goldstein. "The law is clear.  We at Garden State Equality will not relent in calling for a hate crimes prosecution."

Later in the day, Middlesex County prosecutors put out a statement saying they were considering "motives" in the case, and additional charges were possible.

"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.

"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," Prosecutor Kaplan said.

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