NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The parents of a Rutgers University student who killed himself after his roommate allegedly used a webcam to spy on him during a tryst with another man have filed notice that they intend to sue the school.

Joseph and Jane Clementi, parents of Tyler Clementi, filed notice Friday preserving their right to sue. They have to wait six months after the notice to file a lawsuit over their son’s death, which became a symbol in a national outcry over the bullying of young gays.

In the notice, the couple said “it appears Rutgers University failed to act, failed to put in place and/or failed to implement, and enforce policies and practices that would have prevented or deterred such acts, and that Rutgers failed to act timely and appropriately”

The claim, first reported by The Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, did not list how much in damages the Ridgewood family would seek.

The notice was given shortly before a 90-day deadline, and the family has not decided whether to move ahead with the lawsuit, Paul Mainardi, a Clementi family lawyer, said in a statement. Without the notice, he said, the family would lose the option to sue.

Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda said in a statement that the school is not to blame.

“We at the university share the family’s sense of loss of their son, who was a member of our community. We also recognize that a grieving family may question whether someone or some institution could somehow have responsibility for their son’s death,” Miranda said. ‘While the university understands this reaction, the university is not responsible for Tyler Clementi’s suicide.”

Clementi, an 18-year-old violinist in his first weeks of college, killed himself on Sept. 22, days after a roommate and another Rutgers allegedly used a webcam to peek at Clementi’s liaison with another man.

The suspects, Dharun Ravi and fellow freshman Molly Wei, were both charged with invasion of privacy and have withdrawn from Rutgers. Authorities say they’re weighing whether to charge them with bias intimidation.

Clementi’s death came amid a string of high-profile suicides of young people who were gay or perceived to be gay. Partly because of the way he killed himself — jumping off the George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey with Manhattan — Clementi has become a face of the issue.

Some experts fear that his death may have sparked copycat suicides among other vulnerable young people.

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

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (18)
  1. Sara says:

    Rutgers is not responsible. Are the parents responsible? I don’t think they are either so they shouldn’t put blame on Rutgers. Tyler was obviously very troubled or he would have at least gone to his parents for help. This is a tragedy but let’s not put blame where it doesn’t belong. I feel very badly for Tyler but he made a sad decision for himself. He made the decision.

    1. JKD says:

      It really depends on what the college did to handle the situation.

      Did he seek help in the college and get turned away? Did counselors dismiss this as a “harmless” prank? Was the crime done using Rutger’s computers or Internet service (free to Rutgers students)? Was the matter brought to the Dean and what did she do about the situation?

      The parents has an intent to sue which means they can back out later. The deadline is near and that’s why they did it (through the lawyer’s advice).

  2. Danielle DW says:

    Rutgers has the habit of “looking the other way” when it comes to cyber bullying. About 10 years ago, one of their students made a phony personal ad with my name, email address, and picture (from my photo) and put it on an adult personals site. When I contacted the head of their computer department, I was blamed by her for bringing it to her attention and told me to work things out with that bully.

    The bully was a Rutgers student, had an IP address of Rutgers (I asked the webmaster of that personals site to forward me the phony ad and that’s how I found out) , and used the computer lab to do his shenanigans. The phony ad had a lot of offensive content (like requesting to be raped) and so I told the East Windsor police department about this crime. Bear in mind, this was unheard of back then and so they didn’t know how to treat this (they closed the case and dismissed it as a “harmless” prank).

    Seriously, Rutgers seems to let their students get away with everything and maybe this time, they’ll be humbled.

  3. Hal Delaney RU 80 says:

    Maybe Rutgers should have aperson follow every student around 24 hours a day and stay up at nights watching them sleep to majke sure they dont harm themselves. What a garbage lawsuit

  4. JanJones says:

    There is only one person and one person alone responsible for Tyler’s suicide and that is Tyler. It was his decision, no one else’s.

    My mother committed suicide. My stepfather treated her horribly when she was alive. Did I sue my stepfather? No, it took me a long time until I realized she was the one who ended her life and she alone was responsible.

  5. KimmyRodz says:

    The parent suing the school is as ridiculous and wrong as someone suing the parent’s for Tyler’s sucide. Someone could just as easily say that the parents were responsible but that is wrong. So is blaming Rutgers. Shame on the parents.

  6. jgny says:

    America, The sue me country. When all else fails, blame the school. Garbage.

  7. aldous huxley says:

    The University has no liability. There is nothing they could have done, within reasonable expectations, that would have prevented this. But, it really is just smart legal strategy to file against Rutgers. This will be a very complex bit of civil litigation and Rutgers may settle at some point just from a cost perspective, but there was no way they would not be brought into the litigation.

    The bottom line is that college students are going to do WHATEVER they want regardless of any policies and/or programs put in place by the school. Did Rutgers really need to zero in on “please don’t film your roommate having sex without their consent” ? Yeah, that would have prevented this.

  8. anna singh says:

    parents are responsible for bringing up their children in the fear of the Lord. Why commit an act when you share a room. maybe he could have gone to a motel or his parents home. Schools are for learning, not committing sexual acts and when caught they get the blame. Parents need to take a good look of themselves before suing the university

  9. Elisa says:

    The parents are wrong to sue the school. When a person commits suicide, no one will ever have the ABSOLUTE ANSWERS as to why they did it. If Tyler was this depressed, he could have wound up doing this to himself anyway even if this particular incident never happened.

  10. LawyerTTC says:

    Everyone needs to realize that the deep pockets are with the school, not the 2 adult students. Suing them gets you nothing, and is actually a harder case win (i.e. you must prove a foreseeable nexus between the the taping and the result, the death… its a stretch). Suing the school, you must only convince a jury the it had a duty to act, and it negligently failed to do so.

  11. ttc says:

    based on the law, this is a loser of a lawsuit, but having witnessed the public outcry, the parents now think they can convince a jury, they have $$ in their eyes

  12. Nelson Morales Jr. says:

    I really think they should sue the two students who did this. Suing the university when budget cuts are affectIng the university. I’m already paying parts of my tuition thanks to budget cuts and this lawsuit just adds insult to injury. If they go through and win, I’m sure there won’t be any symphathy left for Tyler because students will have to pay more for school. Do me and the rutgers community a favor and drop the lawsuit. Sue the two kids that recorded the video that led to Tyler’s death.

  13. andrewthoone says:

    In fact, under new health care reform your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to cancel your policy if you get sick, we should be doing this already! search online “Wise Health Insurance” it is a good place to find insurance if you have illness like me.

  14. Juan says:

    I don’t agree the parents should sue Rutgers. I had a family member who committed suicide and while I feel badly for the parents, their son made the decision to end his own life. No one can get inside his head; this could have been a culmination of events and depression. I don’t think one event is totally responsible. Yes, one event can put you over the edge but Tyler could have been depressed. The bottom line is once the person ended their life, you will never know the real answer.

    I don’t think any blame should be put on a university. Why take money away from Rutgers which ultimately takes away from the students.

    Once you hit 18, you are responsible for yourself. Sadly, some people don’t reach out to their family for help. But you can’t make others the scapegoats. You control the fact whether or not you want to take your own life.

  15. Mike says:

    I think everyone is forgetting about the two so called ADULTS that taped all this. They are responsible as well.

  16. joe k says:

    Boy am I surprised. A law suit! Who would have guessed?

  17. Bob Fowler says:

    I’m tired of everyone suing everyone for their own lackings and shortcomings. Rutgers is not, nor should it be, the monitoring service of its ADULT students. These are adults that we are talking about. Adults should have learned to protect themselves, and deal with life’ cruelties at home.

    The tragedy of this is not lost on me, but, was Rutgers supposed to profile their applicants to see if the potential for such deviations lived inside their brains? How about the parents taking responsibility for not having a strong enough family support system where their on could have come to them for help? How about the parents taking responsibility for not having prepared this young man for life?

    Never mind. It’s better to blame everyone else, and sue someone for their loss.

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