- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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 the notice on Friday. They have to wait six months to file the 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 that “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, N.J., family would seek.

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,” Mr. Miranda said. “While the university understands this reaction, the university is not responsible for Tyler Clementi’s suicide.”

Lawyers for the Clementi family did not immediately return calls from the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Clementi, an 18-year-old violinist in his first weeks of college, killed himself on Sept. 22, days after a roommate and another Rutgers student 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The suspects, Dharun Ravi and fellow freshman Molly Wei, were both charged with invasion of privacy and have withdrawn from Rutgers.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, which connects 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 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.

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