Amanda Todd: Man arrested in Netherlands in Canadian’s online bullying
A 35-year-old man has been arrested in the Netherlands in connection with the online bullying of Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen who committed suicide in October 2012, the RCMP says.
He faces charges of extortion, Internet luring, criminal harassment, possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution, and possession of child pornography, said RCMP Insp. Paulette Freill.
The man was arrested in January after an investigation into alleged offences in the Netherlands involving Dutch victims.
“This is truly a day we’ve been waiting for,” said Amanda’s mother, Carol, teary-eyed as she spoke Thursday at a news conference in Surrey, B.C.
“It is my hope and our hope that Amanda’s legacy will continue to move forward and her death and stories behind it will encompass lessons towards education and awareness,” she said.
The arrest is a turning point in a case that made international headlines after the 15-year-old girl from Port Coquitlam, B.C., posted a heart-wrenching eight-minute video on YouTube weeks before her death.
Her story and other instances of cyberbullying prompted the Canadian government to propose legislation that would make it a criminal offence to distribute intimate images without the consent of the person shown.
In the video, Todd uses flash cards to reveal the extent of the bullying after she was lured by a man to expose herself on camera during an online chat.
A year later, she received a message from an unidentified man threatening to share the photo with everyone she knew.
“I can never get that photo back, it’s out there forever,” she wrote.
The video went viral and has been viewed by more than 17 million people.
For Coquitlam’s small RCMP detachment, the scope and scale of the investigation expanded in ways that could never have been imagined, Freill said.
What started as an investigation into the alleged harassment of a local teenager quickly grew to include thousands of tips, hundreds of interviews and more than 30 officers during the first few months, she said.
The complexity of the investigation meant they were unable to share progress in the case with the public or even Amanda’s family.
“I can’t imagine how that loss has impacted either one of you or how it continues to impact you,” Freill said. “Her story touched all of us.”
The accused man’s lawyer, Christian van Dijk, said the case against his client, whose name has not yet been released, is paper thin. He said even if there is proof of unlawful activity on the man’s computer, it may have been hacked.
“Prosecutors seem to think they have a big fish here,” he said.
Van Dijk described his client as somewhat reclusive and noted he had no wife or children.
He is suspected of blackmailing underage girls to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam in several countries, says a news release from the Netherlands’ prosecution service.
Prosecutors first publicized the case after a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
He is believed to have been arrested at a home in Oisterwijk, south of Amsterdam, after authorities were tipped off by a U.S. Internet provider, said Mathijs Pennings, a reporter for Omroep Brabant, a news outlet based in the southern region of the Netherlands.
He added that prosecutors and police believe there could be as many as 40 victims.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
Source: Nguyen, Andrew , and Sean Tepper. “Amanda Todd: Man arrested in Netherlands in Canadian’s online bullying | Toronto Star.” thestar.com. The Canadian Press and The Associated Press, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.