Amanda Todd's Alleged Harasser Has Been Charged

by Joanna Rothkopf

The man reportedly responsible for harassing Amanda Todd on the Web has apparently been identified in the Netherlands. The unnamed 35-year-old has been charged with child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and Internet luring. Amanda Todd, 15, from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, took her own life on Oct. 10, 2012, after posting a YouTube video using placards to describe her experience with Internet bullying. The abuse forced her to switch schools and turn to drugs, alcohol, and self-harm.

In the video, Todd tells her story: she was video chatting with a man who requested that she flash him. She did, and he took a picture. For the next few years, the man followed her around the Internet, begging her to engage with him again. When she refused, he sent the lewd photo to her classmates at school through Facebook. Her classmates ostracized her, and she attempted suicide numerous times before finally succeeding.

Many would argue, as does the law, that what Todd experienced wasn't bullying, but something far more malicious. Nevertheless, her story made her an instant household name, prompting international outrage over the problem Internet intimidation.

Todd's family was emotional when they heard the news. Reportedly wiping away tears, Todd's mother, Carol Todd said, "This is truly a day we have been waiting for," as she thanked police.

The reports of the man’s connection with Todd were revealed when Dutch broadcaster Omroep Brabant suggested that the suspect’s case could be related to Todd’s. Later, the man’s lawyer, Christian van Dijk confirmed to the Associated Press that his client’s charges involve a 15-year-old girl from British Columbia.

The suspect had been living in a trailer park in the town of Oisterwijk until he was arrested in January of this year. Since then, he has been in police custody.

According to the Associated Press, prosecutors suspect that the man approached underage girls on the Internet and then seduced them into performing sexual acts via webcam while he took pictures. When they refused to participate again, he would financially blackmail them. The suspect is also believed to have blackmailed adult men similarly, by convincing them he was a young boy, having them perform sexual acts via webcam, and then threatening to give the images to the police.

Justice for Todd will take time. The suspect must go through the Dutch legal process before he can be extradited and face separate charges in Canada. The United States and Britain will also be taking legal action against the suspect.

Van Dijk does not believe that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict his client, and that even if there was incriminating information on the suspect's computer, it may have been obtained illegally. "Prosecutors seem to think they have a big fish here, but if I see the evidence, it's not so much," he said. "Lot's of references to IP addresses and such."

Image: YouTube