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Gay Rights Group Sees Hate Crime Behind Student's Suicide After Sex Video

Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, is seen in an undated photo posted to his Facebook page

Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, is seen in an undated photo posted to his Facebook page

As police identified the body of a New Jersey college student who killed himself after video of him in a sexual encounter with another man was posted online, prosecutors face pressure to pursue hate crime charges against the two students accused of posting the video.

Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University, killed himself by jumping Sept. 22 from the New York City's George Washington Bridge.

Fellow Rutgers students Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei were charged last week with secretly -- and illegally -- posting the sexual encounter involving Clementi online. The Middlesex County, N.J., prosecutor's office charged the pair with invasion of privacy for allegedly placing a camera inside the student's dorm room.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said in a written statement that his group considers Clementi's death a hate crime.

"We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind," Goldstein said. "And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport."

If a hate crime enhancement is added to the charges, it would increase the maximum potential prison sentence to 10 years.

But without aggravating circumstances, a prison term is unlikely, and it may be difficult to justify more serious charges, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said.

"The law of New Jersey requires, to connect this stunt or this invasion of privacy to the death, there has to be intention to cause the death or physical connection between the observation of him having sex and his dying. That that simply isn't here," Napolitano said. "The fact that this was not done out of animus or hatred for the victim would again probably indicate no incarceration.

"It's tough to accept this. You have an innocent young man taking his own life because of an (encounter) that is perfectly lawful and utterly private. And he had nothing to do with the publican of this event," Napolitano said. "He should be alive and well, but he's dead. And nobody will be punished for (his death)."

Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick said in a statement Wednesday that the school was "profoundly saddened" by news of Clementi's suicide.

"While I did not have the privilege of knowing this young man, I have learned that in addition to his academic abilities, he was a gifted musician," McCormick said. "Our university community feels the pain of his loss, and I know there is anger and outrage about these events. ...

"If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity," McCormick said.

Ravi, of Plainsboro, N.J., was released on $25,000 bail Tuesday. Wei, of Princeton, N.J., was released on her own recognizance Monday.

Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Star-Ledger that the two used the camera to view and transmit a live image of the student on Sept. 19. Ravi is charged with two additional counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly trying to transmit another encounter involving the same student on Sept. 21, according to the newspaper.

Ravi's now defunct Twitter feed reportedly contained messages about his use of iChat, a messaging service that allows for the live-streaming of video. 

He reportedly posted on his Twitter account 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," Ravi wrote, according to the Star-Ledger.

"Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 to 12. Yes it's happening again," he reportedly tweeted again on Sept. 22. 

An investigation reportedly began after someone alerted the campus police that the camera had been placed in the student's dorm room without permission. The tip then led to the arrest of Wei and Ravi.

Clementi, a gifted violinist who received a scholarship from the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, was described by his fellow musicians as "kind" and "sensitive." 

"Tyler was an absolute wonderful person," Donna Dixon, the orchestra's personnel manager, said in an interview with FoxNews.com.

"We couldn’t have had a better person," she said. "He was the model player."

As of Thursday morning, nearly 15,000 people had joined a Facebook group created in honor of Clementi -- with members expressing outrage over the alleged secret taping believed to have led to his suicide.

"The sad, tragic, horrible acts that occurred in the final days of this poor boy's life are inhumane," one member posted on the site. 

"That a young man ... (with) such musical gifts should be driven senselessly to suicide is ...unconscionable," wrote another. 

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, said in a statement that his group considers Clementi's death a hate crime.

"We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind," Goldstein said. "And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport."

Click here to read more on this story from MyFoxNY.com

Click here to read more on this story from The Star-Ledger

FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin and the Associated Press contributed to this report