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Ellen DeGeneres has been profoundly affected by the death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who committed suicide after his roommate allegedly videotaped him having sex with another male.
"I am devastated over the death of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi," the talk show host said Thursday. "He was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself... One life lost in this senseless way is tragic."
Clementi, 18, jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22 and died from drowning and blunt force trauma, according to the New York Medical Examiner's office. The body was recovered Wednesday.
"Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician," says the Clementi family's attorney, Paul Mainardi. "The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve their great loss and that their privacy at this painful time be respected by all."
Authorities say Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, secretly set up a camera in their room to film his roommate, and later posted it to his Twitter page. "Roommate asked for the room till midnight," he wrote. "I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
"Something must be done," DeGeneres lamented, after acknowledging that two other similar cases have been reported within the last month. "This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing. We have an obligation to change this."
Ravi and another teen have been arrested for investigation of invasion of privacy, while prosecutors are still deciding if this is considered a hate crime. The tape was allegedly intended to be streamed on the Internet.
"The on-going investigation is considering the motives leading to the illegal Internet transmission of a personal encounter involving the victim," the Middlesex County, N.J., Prosecutor's Office says in a statement. "We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges."
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