​Remembering Tyler Clementi

Five years after a teen's headline-making suicide, his family's foundation this week is launching a new campaign in his name -- a campaign aimed at putting a stop to bullying before it can even start. Our Cover Story is reported by Erin Moriarty of "48 Hours":

On September 22, 2010, the phone rang at the Northern New Jersey home of Joe and Jane Clementi.

Joe answered: "Port Authority Police had called, and said, 'We have your son's wallet and cell phone. You need to come to the station.'"

"What were you thinking?" asked Moriarty.

"Crank call."

But the call was real. Police told the Clementis that it was likely their 18-year-old son, Tyler, a freshman at Rutgers University, had jumped from the George Washington Bridge.

Jane told Moriarty that there was a period of time when she "knew" they were wrong. "I wasn't hoping; I knew it. I knew they were wrong."


But Tyler's body was found in the Hudson River seven days later.

What happened next turned their private tragedy into a public issue. During the investigation it was revealed that days before Tyler committed suicide, his college roommate, Dharun Ravi, had used a webcam to secretly live stream Tyler's date with a man.

Ravi and another classmate, Molly Wei, were charged with several crimes, including invasion of privacy.

Moriarty asked, "How do you react when somebody says, 'Oh, that's just boys being boys. That was just what goes on in dorms'?"

"Is it?" replied Joe. "Does that happen in dorms?"

tyler-clementi-244.jpg
Tyler Clementi
Family photo

Tyler was the youngest of three boys -- James, now 29; Brian, 26. "And then there's Tyler, my baby," said Jane, "who will be forever 18."

Tyler also had a great passion for music, and was an accomplished violinist.

"I was very protective of him growing up," said his brother, James. "I was six years older than him. I just really wanted to be able to protect him from anything harmful in life."

The family, always close, regularly attended an evangelical Christian church. Only later did Jane and her husband realize that the church's message was causing anguish at home.

"What was that message?" asked Moriarty.

"That being gay is a sin," said Jane.

James said, "I felt for a long time that there was something wrong with me. And I had to hide that from people."

" Could you talk to your parents? Did you feel that you could?" asked Moriaryt.