NJ Gov. Wonders How Rutgers 'Spies' Can Sleep at Night After Tyler Clementi's Suicide

Prosecutor says he will determine whether bias will play a role in charges.

September 29, 2010, 3:37 PM

Sept. 30, 2010— -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today called the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi an "unspeakable tragedy" and said he can't imagine how the two students accused of secretly filming Clementi can sleep at night "knowing that they contributed to driving that young man" to suicide.

The governor spoke hours after a body that was pulled from the Hudson River was identified as Clementi. The student leaped to his death after his roommate allegedly secretly filmed him during a "sexual encounter" with a man and posted it live on the Internet,

The medical examiner's office said an autospy revealed the 18-year-old had drowned and suffered blunt impact injuries to his torso.

Christie grew emotional when discussing Clementi's death.

"As the father of a 17-year-old…I can't imagine what those parents are feeling today, I can't. You send your son to school to get an education with great hopes and aspirations, and I can't imagine what those parents are feeling today," he said.

The governor also wondered about the two students accused of taping Clementi, bragging about it online and then trying to catch him on video a second time.

"There might be some people who can take that type of treatment and deal with it, and there might be others, as this young man obviously was, who was much more greatly affected by it," Christie said. "I have to tell you, I don't know how those two folks are going to sleep at night, knowing that they contributed to driving that young man to that alternative."

The governor said he would not push to have the case prosecuted as a hate crime and would leave that up to the prosecutor, and Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan today indicated he would consider bias as an aggravating factor in bringing charges against the two students.

"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,'' Kaplan said.

Clementi's friends who have been reeling since news of the suicide was confirmed Wednesday by the student's family.

"I am just devastated that this happened, especially to such an amazing person," Christina Guentert wrote to ABC News in an e-mail. "Tyler was a remarkable person in many ways; he was always kind, generous, sweet and loyal.

"He always had a smile on his face, and would joke around with me during class even on bad days," wrote Guentert, who went to school with Clementi for seven years in Ridgewood, N.J. "Tyler came off as innocent and sweet, the kind of person that you could rely on and go to for anything."

Clementi was enrolled in Rutger's music program and was an accomplished violinist.

"Not only was Tyler incredibly intelligent, but he was an amazing violin player," said Guentert. "He stood out at every school concert, and never seemed to get nervous. The music really came from his heart."

Tyler Clementi Is Believed to Have Reached Out to Gay Website in Days Before Death

Items belonging to the Rutgers student were found by the George Washington Bridge last week, according to authorities. Clementi's freshman ID card and driver's license were in the wallet.

Clementi's post on his Facebook page, dated Sept. 22 at 8:42 p.m. read, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."

Friends of Clementi's said that he'd never had a girlfriend in high school and had never come out as gay. He was always focused on his role in the school orchestra, said friend Rob Righthand.

"He was one of those kids who never had a girlfriend and never had a boyfriend. You just thought he wasn't open for dating or anything like that," said Righthand.

"He was an incredible violin player. That was his No. 1 thing," said Righthand.

Clementi's suicide has shaken Rutgers, Gregory Blimling, Rutgers University vice president for student affairs, told ABC News.

"This is a highly rare occurrence," said Blimling. "In my 36 years as an administrator in student affairs, I don't think I've ever seen anything like this."

There is evidence that in the days following his roommate's alleged spying on him, Clementi reached out to a gay website to complain. The e-mails, written by someone identified as "cit2mo" and first cited by Gawker.com, describe a situation that mirrors Clementi's -- the videocam spying by a college roommate.

Since Clementi's death, a message reading "in loving memory" appears next to the handle "cit2mo."

Cit2mo seems particularly upset that comments after the incident sympathized with his roommate for having to share his room with a gay person.

"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?"

Tyler Clementi's Roommate Charged

Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, also 18, and another Rutgers student, Molly Wei, have each been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy.

But a friend of Ravi's said he believes it was just a prank.

"He's very, very open-minded," Michael Zhuang said. "If it had been a girl in the room it wouldn't have been any different."

A Facebook memorial group created in honor of Clementi already has tends of housands of members and hundreds of comments remembering the college freshman.

One of Tyler's friends, Courtney Ayukawa, posted to the group's wall, "I will always remember everything from our preschool's Halloween party to your amazing musical talents. When you picked up the violin and began to play, it was as if everything just paused until you put it down again. We will never forget you Tyler. May you rest in peace."

Strangers have also contributed to the memorial page, one writing simply, "R.I.P from a stranger."

People from around the world have used the page to speak out against online bullying, writing, "Tyler, I'm sorry that this World couldn't accept you as you were so wonderfully made," and "If we are to truly honor Tyler's memory, we must all work to show light to all gay youth in despair."

Police said Clementi and Ravi had known each other only for a few weeks. The school year at Rutgers began on Sept. 1.

A Twitter page that appears to have been operated by Ravi but has since been taken offline shows messages in which the accused student takes credit for the alleged videotaping of Clementi.

Ravi apparently tweeted about his roommate on Sept. 19 before live streaming Clementi's sexual encounter, writing, "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."

And two days later, another message went out to Ravi's 148 Twitter followers: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."

Blimling said he was prevented by federal law from discussing certain aspects of a student's activities on campus but told "Good Morning America" today that students are prohibited from filming one another without permission.

"We reported what we knew to the Rutgers University Police Department who worked with the local prosecutor's office," he said.

Blimling said the loss has hit Rutgers students hard. The day Clementi went missing, about 90 students from his floor met with grief counselors sent into the dorms.

"He was very to himself," fellow freshman Danielle Birnbohm said. "He seemed like a nice, quiet person as far as I know."

Clementi's suicide, he said, has already become part of a new program for students.

"This week the university is starting a program on civility," he said. "Part of that program will include discussions about things that have happened at our university."

Students Mourn Rutgers University Student After Sex Video Apparently Prompts Suicide

A recent study found gay kids are four times more likely than straight kids to commit suicide and that nine out of 10 gay kids have reported being harassed.

Both Wei and Ravi surrendered to police. Wei has been released on her own recognizance and Ravi posted $25,000 bail.

Under New Jersey's invasion-of-privacy statutes, it is a fourth degree crime to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person's consent, and it is a third degree crime to transmit or distribute such images. The penalty for conviction of a third degree offense can include a prison term of up to five years.

Lawyers for both Wei and Ravi did not respond to messages left by ABC News.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Shimon Prokupecz and Sarah Netter contributed to this story.