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Student's apparent suicide linked to webcast of sexual encounter

From Kristen Hamill and Logan Burruss, CNN
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Did an invasion of privacy lead to death?
  • Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide last week, his family says
  • Two other students are charged with broadcasting Clementi in a sexual encounter
  • The president of Rutgers says, "We don't have all the facts in this case"
  • If true, the actions "gravely violate the university's standards of decency and humanity"

(CNN) -- A Rutgers University student who apparently committed suicide was the unknowing target of an internet broadcast showing him in a sexual encounter, New Jersey authorities said Wednesday.

Two other Rutgers students have been charged with invasion of privacy after they allegedly placed a camera in 18-year-old Tyler Clementi's dorm room without his knowledge and then broadcast Clementi's sexual encounter, according to the Middlesex County prosecutor's office.

"If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university's standards of decency and humanity," Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said in a statement Wednesday.

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Although Clementi's body has not been found, an attorney for the Ridgewood, New Jersey, family said Wednesday, "On behalf of the family of Tyler Clementi, I can confirm that Tyler committed suicide last week by jumping from the George Washington Bridge."

"The family and their representatives are cooperating fully with the ongoing criminal investigations of two Rutgers University students," attorney Paul Mainardi added.

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A law enforcement source confirmed with CNN that while a body has not yet been recovered, Clementi's wallet and cell phone were found on the bridge that spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York.

Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, and Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, New Jersey, are each charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for the September 19 broadcast, according to the prosecutor's office. Two more counts of invasion of privacy were leveled against Ravi for an attempt to videotape another encounter involving Clementi on September 21, the prosecutor's office said.

It is unclear exactly how Rutgers campus police learned that a camera had been placed in Clementi's room and used to broadcast his encounter.

Both Wei and Ravi surrendered to campus police -- Wei surrendered on Monday and was released on her own recognizance; Ravi surrendered Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bail.

Ravi's attorney did not return phone calls from CNN.

According to the Middlesex County prosecutor's office, Wei apparently had not retained an attorney as of Wednesday.

If convicted, both could face up to five years in prison.

Police at the university, which has its main campus in New Brunswick, are investigating the case, university president McCormick said in his statement Wednesday.

"I deeply regret that today we learned from the family of one of our students that they believe their son has committed suicide. We are profoundly saddened by this report, and our hearts and prayers are with the parents, family, and friends of this young man, who had started at Rutgers this semester as a first-year student on the New Brunswick campus," McCormick said in the statement.

He added, "While there is a lot of information being communicated, we don't have all the facts in this case."