Rutgers Student Remembered As Shy, Gifted Violinist

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Tyler Clementi i

Tyler Clementi killed himself after his sexual encounter with a man was made very public. AP hide caption

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Tyler Clementi

Tyler Clementi killed himself after his sexual encounter with a man was made very public.


The Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide after his sex life was exposed on the Internet is being remembered in his hometown this week as a private young man and a talented musician.

Tyler Clementi, 18, was apparently distraught after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room found its way onto the Internet — allegedly via Clementi's roommate. He jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22; his body was found floating in the Hudson River on Wednesday.

The roommate, Dharun Ravi, and fellow Rutgers freshman Molly Wei, both 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy. Middlesex County prosecutors say the pair used a webcam to surreptitiously transmit a live image of Clementi having sex on Sept. 19, and that Ravi tried to webcast a second encounter on Sept. 21, the day before Clementi's suicide.

Prosecutors on Friday were also considering bias-crime charges, and the case is drawing widespread attention to bullying over sexuality.

Those who knew Clementi at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey say it's heartbreaking that such a private young man came to such a public end.

Clementi was bright but shy — he wasn't one to brag, said Ridgewood Principal John Lorenz.

"He wasn’t that loud, boisterous personality. He wasn’t a student that would be standing out in front in a pep rally. He would contribute in a different way, in maybe a little more humble and quieter way," Lorenz said.

Where Clementi really blossomed was onstage.

"The violin was his voice," said Arlene Locola, Clementi’s former violin teacher. And his talent was obvious from an early age.

"He played almost immediately with an energy and fire and passion, even though it was 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.' And when he picked his violin up, you noticed," she said. "You noticed that this was something special."

Clementi performed with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra and the Bergen Youth Orchestra, and he worked in a local production of the musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change last summer. Clementi didn’t have a chance to make his mark at Rutgers, but Locola said he did in his hometown.

"There's a lot of sadness for his family and his friends and all those who admired and loved him in Ridgewood, because he was very special. And he had a full life ahead of him," she said.



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