Warning: This story contains details that may disturb some readers. Discretion is advised.
Carol Todd has been campaigning for justice and understanding for her daughter, Amanda, for the past eight years.
Now, the man accused of harassing and blackmailing the B.C. teenager has been extradited to Canada to face charges.
For Carol Todd, the development brings back the terrible memories of 2012, when Amanda’s suicide at age 15 generated headlines around the world, sparking global discussions about sextortion and cyberbullying.
“I wasn’t sure it would ever happen because it’s been so long,” Carol Todd told me.
“All I wanted was a trial and see justice served.”
Now the judicial wheels are starting to turn.
In December, a 42-year-old Dutch man, Aydin Coban, was extradited to Canada to face charges of extortion, criminal harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and two counts of possession of child pornography.
Amanda Todd died by suicide in October 2012. Shortly before her death, she posted a heartbreaking video to social media in which she silently held up a series of flashcards describing the torment she had endured.
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In the video, she said someone in an online chat room asked her to pull up her shirt and expose her breasts. She said she later received messages from a man threatening to release compromising photos of her if she didn’t “put on a show” for him.
Carol Todd said bullying and harassment of her daughter was not confined to the online world. She said school peers and acquaintances also harassed and taunted her after her picture was spread on the internet.
“She was traumatized,” Carol Todd told me, adding that counselling, therapy and switching schools helped for a while — until the photo would pop up again and a new cycle of harassment and taunting would begin.
“The image followed her, the story followed her wherever she went. It would rear its ugly head and start again.”
In 2017, Coban was convicted by a court in the Netherlands and sentenced to nearly 11 years in jail for online fraud and the blackmailing of 34 young women and five men.
He has issued a statement denying that he tormented Amanda Todd.
Carol Todd travelled to Amsterdam in February 2017 so she could see Coban in person at his trial there.
“It was sort of like a practice for me to see how I would feel,” Carol Todd told me.
“I wanted to see him face-to-face.”
As her campaign for justice for Amanda continues, cyberbullying expert Barbara Coloroso said Coban’s extradition to Canada is a sign of progress on the issue.
“It (extradition) is happening more and more,” Coloroso told me.
“And Amanda’s mother, Carol, has kept this case in the spotlight, which is very important. It promotes awareness for teens and their parents that this can happen to anyone.”
As the Canadian trial of Aydin Coban approaches, Coloroso said the new focus on the case is an opportunity to remind families about the dangers of cyberbullying and sextortion.
“We can let our children know that they can talk to us about the good, the bad and the ugly, that we are not there to censor them,” Coloroso told me, adding the case also highlights the need for more services for exploited kids.
For Carol Todd, the tragic death of her daughter remains a permanent source of pain. But she hopes a high-profile trial of her alleged tormentor will help other families.
Mike Smyth is host of ‘The Mike Smyth Show’ on Global News Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver and a commentator for Global News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MikeSmythNews.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
Learn more about how to help someone in crisis here.