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Crime & Courts

Former Rutgers Student Charged in Roommate's Suicide

Tyler Clementi

Undated photo of Tyler Clementi. (AP)

TRENTON, N.J. -- A former Rutgers University freshman was indicted Wednesday on bias intimidation and other charges after allegedly using a webcam to spy on a same-sex encounter involving his roommate, who committed suicide shortly afterward in a case that started a national conversation on bullying.

A 15-count indictment was handed up Wednesday by a Middlesex County grand jury against Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, who had already faced invasion of privacy charges along with another student, Molly Wei.

The indictment charges Ravi with bias, invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, and other charges stemming from the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi in September. The indictment said charges against Wei would not be presented to the grand jury "at this time."

Tyler Clementi's family issued a statement following the indictment, saying it "spells out cold and calculated acts against our son Tyler by his former college roommate." 

"If these facts are true, as they appear to be, then it is important for our criminal justice system to establish clear accountability under law. We are eager to have the process move forward for justice in this case and to reinforce the standards of acceptable conduct in our society," the statement said.

Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River shortly after authorities say Ravi and Wei used a webcam to peek at his liaison. Lawyers for Ravi say the webcam stream was viewed only on a single computer and did not show the men having sex.

The death of Clementi, a promising violinist in his first weeks at college, came amid a string of high-profile suicides of young people who were gay or perceived to be gay.

Partly because of his high-profile death and the other circumstances surrounding his suicide, Clementi became a face of the issue.

President Barack Obama and celebrities including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and sex columnist Dan Savage have talked publicly about his death and said that young gays and lesbians need to know that life gets better.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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