A B.C. Supreme Court judge has struck down a ban on naming the late Amanda Todd as the underage victim in an online harassment and child pornography case involving a middle-aged suspect extradited to Canada from the Netherlands.
In a ruling released Monday, Justice Martha Devlin granted a constitutional exemption to the section of the Canadian Criminal Code that bans publishing or broadcasting the identities of victims of child pornography.
Amanda’s mother, Carol Todd, and a group of media outlets, including The Globe and Mail, had applied to have the ban lifted on naming the Port Coquitlam, B.C., 15-year-old, who died by suicide in 2012 a month after posting a YouTube video detailing years of online harassment and cyberbullying.
After her death, the video was shared millions of times as it triggered an international discussion on the dangers teens face online.
Ms. Todd, who works for her local school district teaching children digital literacy and citizenship, said the ruling will allow her to resume her international advocacy spreading awareness backed up by the details of her daughter’s life.
“In the years since her passing, we’ve created great conversations based on cyberbullying, exploitation and digital safety,” Ms. Todd said in an interview Monday. “It can be more meaningful when you put a real face to a story and then talk about the awareness and education – without being able to say Amanda’s name or tell parts of her story, it really decreased her significance.”
Ms. Todd said she understands why publication bans are essential in cases involving sexual assault and the exploitation of minors. But, she said, there is no point in keeping Amanda’s name quiet when it is known worldwide and inextricably linked to the current case on Canada’s West Coast.
One month before her death, Amanda had posted a video where she held up flash cards recalling the many instances of abuse she encountered online and in-person. Part of the video told of a moment of indiscretion – flashing her breasts on a webcam in Grade 7 – and the resulting extortion by an unknown man who sent images to her friends, family and classmates after she refused to “put on a show” for him.
Ms. Todd said her daughter wanted her cautionary tale of torment to be shared far and wide, as it was after her death.
“Her last card is, ‘My name is Amanda Todd.’ She wanted everyone to know that was her story,” Ms. Todd said in the phone interview.
Plus, Ms. Todd said, the RCMP had already named her daughter in their 2014 news release announcing charges against the Dutch man now set to face a jury trial this June.
Aydin Coban, in his early 40s, faces charges including extortion and criminal harassment, as well as the possession and distribution of child pornography.
Ms. Todd attended Mr. Coban’s 2017 trial in Amsterdam, where he received a maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months for child pornography, fraud and blackmail charges relating to the online harassment of 34 girls and five men.
At his Dutch trial, a judge convicted Mr. Coban of seducing dozens of underage girls and several men into posing nude during surreptitiously recorded video chats and later using the images to blackmail his victims for cash.
Mr. Coban denied the charges, blaming many of the offences on a mysterious associate.
Mr. Coban was later extradited to Canada and made his first appearance in a B.C. court near the end of 2020.
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