The two Rutgers University students accused of secretly filming Tyler Clementi in his dorm room just days before he leaped to his death, have broken their silence to insist they did not bully Clementi.
A lawyer for 18-year-old Dharun Ravi, who was roommates with Clementi, issued a statement urging the public not to "rush to charges" against his client.
"Unfortunately, a life has been lost," said attorney Steven Altman in the statement. "Out of respect to Tyler Clementi's family, this is not the time for explanations of defenses or justifications to be made public by an attorney."
"In regards to statements made by the prosecuting agencies of their continuing investigation and whether to file bias charges against Dharun Ravi, I am heartened to hear that they are taking their time to learn all the facts before rushing to judgment. I can only hope that the public will do the same," wrote Altman. "I am confident that nothing will be learned to justify, warrant or support the filing of any bias criminal complaint."
Both Ravi and his alleged accomplice, fellow Rutgers freshman Molly Wei, face several privacy invasion charges after allegedly surreptitiously filming Clementi during a "sexual encounter" in his dorm room with a man and then streaming it live on the Internet. If convicted, Ravi and Wei could each face five years in prison.
In the days since Clementi's body was retrieved from New York's Hudson River, the office of Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan has said it was exploring whether to bring more serious charges charges against Ravi and Wei.
A spokesman for Kaplan said that an investigation into whether bias or hate crime charges could be brought against Ravi and Wei was still on going.
And at a news conference earlier this week, Kaplan said, "We need to determine the facts and then determine what the applicable law is."
Wei's attorney released a statement insisting on his client's innocence.
"This is a tragic situation. But this tragedy has also unfairly led to rampant speculation and misinformation, which threaten to overwhelm the actual facts of the matter," said attorneys Rubin Sinins and Eric Kahn. "Those true facts will reveal that Molly Wei is innocent. Molly committed no crime. Her remarkable reputation is being unjustly tarnished by uninformed and incorrect assumptions."
The attorneys added that Wei is a "wonderful, caring and talented young woman with a bright future" who has been "maligned by unfounded attacks on her character."
A talented violinist, Clementi grew up in the New Jersey suburb of Ridgewood, where friends who knew him reeled from his sudden death.
Messages on social networking sites left by Ravi suggest that he may have had an aversion to Clementi's sexuality from the start of their freshman year just one month ago.
Ravi tweeted on Aug. 22, "Found out my roommate is gay," according to Forbes.com, and then posted a link to a gay men's website where Ravi said Clementi had placed posts.
Gawker reported it was that same website, JustUsBoys, that Clementi was believed to have turned to once he found out that Ravi had secretly filmed Clementi's sexual encounter with another man.
"So my question is what is next," the posted cti2mo, believed to be Clementi, wrote on Sept. 21. "I could just be more careful next time ... make sure to turn the cam away."