Warning: This story contains details that may disturb some readers. Discretion is advised.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a ruling Monday to allow the media to publicize Amanda Todd’s name in the upcoming trial of a Dutch man accused of cyberbullying her.
Justice Martha Devlin granted the request of Todd’s mother, Carol, and a number of media outlets, including Global BC, who had applied to lift the ban on the 15-year-old girl’s identity that’s required for anyone who is the subject of child pornography.
“It has always been the reaching goal of Amanda’s Legacy to be able to share her story (as she herself did with her YouTube video) in addition to providing prevention and awareness related to cyberbullying, digital safety and exploitation so that other children and families would be able to be informed and have strategies on how to reach out for support,” Carol said in a statement.
In a statement to Global News, the BC Prosecution Service said it will be reviewing the decision before deciding how to proceed in this matter. “Decisions concerning whether to appeal rulings are made following a complete review of the case and issues,” the organization said in an email. There is no timeline available for that decision.
Todd took her own life in October 2012. Shortly before her death, the 15-year-old girl from Port Coquitlam posted a heartbreaking video to YouTube that gained worldwide attention in which she silently held up a series of flashcards describing the torment she had endured from cyberbullying.
In the video, Todd 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.
In 2020, Aydin Coban, 42, was extradited to Canada to face charges of extortion, criminal harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and possession of child pornography. The trial is scheduled for June.
Following the ruling, Coban’s lawyer made this statement on behalf of his client:
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that every person charged with an offence in Canada is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and is entitled to a fair and public hearing. Now that the mandatory publication ban has been struck down, the media will be able to fully report on Mr. Coban’s trial. We ask those watching and reporting on this trial to please remain mindful that Mr. Coban is not charged with Amanda Todd’s death. Mr. Coban unequivocally denies the allegations against him and looks forward to finally having his trial in this case.
A similar ruling was made in the Rehtaeh Parsons case in Nova Scotia in 2014. The 17-year-old girl died by suicide after a photo was circulated showing her alleged sexual assault at a party and she faced cyberbullying and harassment from her classmates.
Parsons’ parents had fought to remove the mandatory publication ban on her identity put in place after two young men were charged in a child porn case involving her.
It was lifted about seven months later under a directive issued by the province’s justice minister.