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A Dutch man accused of cyberbullying Port Coquitlam student Amanda Todd pleaded not guilty to five charges at BC Supreme Court in New Westminster today (Monday) — a decade after her death.
Aydin Coban of The Netherlands stood before Madam Justice Martha Devlin and the jury in Courtroom 209 to formally deny the charges of
- importing and distributing child pornography
- possession of child pornography
- communicating with the intent to lure a child
- criminal harassment
In her opening statement, Louise Kenworthy, the lead prosecutor in the seven-week high-profile trial, outlined how the Crown says it will prove that Coban was behind 22 fake online accounts and how there was a “persistent campaign of online sextortion” in the pursuit of Todd between November 2009 and February 2012.
In her address, Kenworthy alleged that Coban used Facebook, Skype, YouTube and Gmail to trap the girl, forcing her to take off her clothes for personal shows or he would expose the explicit images he captured of her to her friends and family.
That happened on several occasions, Kenworthy alleged, including twice before the Christmases of 2010 and 2011.
Crown counsel also alleged Coban sent topless photos and video links of her to the students and staff at her school, which prompted Todd to change schools in early 2011.
CAROL TODD IS FIRST WITNESS
During the afternoon of the trial, Crown called its first witness, Amanda Todd’s mother, Carol, who discussed her late daughter’s use of social media before her death in October 2012, as well as their relationship.
Carol Todd spoke about a Facebook message she received on Dec. 22, 2010, at 6 p.m., but read it the following day, from someone named “Alice McAllister.”
In that message, which was also shared with her friends and family, was a hyperlink to an adult porn site called motherless.com, Carol Todd stated, as well as a topless image of her daughter.
Carol Todd said she didn’t click on the link to watch the video because “I understood what we were seeing and what was done was child pornography.”
Todd said RCMP came to her Port Coquitlam home at around 2 a.m. on Dec. 24, 2010, for a security check on Amanda, who was living with her father at the time.
Police had received information about online content containing Amanda’s image, which Todd had earlier screen captured. But by the time Mounties arrived at her home, the link was gone, she said.
Todd said her daughter was a regular user of social media, having accounts in her name, as well as aliases on such platforms as Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter and Skype.
She posted videos of herself singing, and she was fascinated with the digital performances and outreach of such celebrities as Justin Bieber, Todd said.
By 2012, Amanda had 1,279 Facebook friends, the court heard.
Todd said she read a second message from “Alice McAllister” on Jan. 4, 2011.
RCMP GET INVOLVED
On Jan. 26, 2011, Amanda and her parents visited the RCMP detachment to discuss Amanda’s use of social media.
“She was quiet,” Todd testified. “She appeared to have issues with sharing with what it was we all saw. It appeared her behaviours were that of belligerence but, in talking with Amanda later, it was more about shame, guilt and afraid of getting in trouble.”
By January 2011, Todd said, Amanda had moved to Maple Ridge to live with her father. At school, she said, her daughter was bullied and cyberbullied by her peers because of the Dec. 22, 2010, message that they also received.
Todd said her daughter promised to share security concerns with her and agreed to report social media incidents to the RCMP.
In May 2011, Amanda did just that when a message on her YouTube channel had the subject line “Move.”
“She was scared. She was frightened,” Todd said, adding her anxiety escalated. “She was all over the place... but she wanted something to be done about it.”
That fall, Amanda asked her mother if she could return home; however, Carol said the pair was to seek counselling about her attitudes and behaviours on social media. “It solidified and bonded our relationship,” Carol remembered.
Still, the anonymous threats carried on.
On Oct. 22, 2011, Todd said she printed off another message that Amanda shared with her — this time from “Tyler Boo” — and gave it to the police to investigate.
“With each piece of messaging that she received, her distresses increased because at the time she felt like she was being followed and stalked by someone who wasn’t in our community,” Todd testified.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The trial continues.