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UPDATE: Amanda Todd shrieked over topless Facebook photo, mother tells sextortion trial

Crown prosecutor alleges ‘persistent campaign’ of online harassment against B.C. teen
Carol Todd holds a photograph of her late daughter Amanda Todd signed by U.S. singer Demi Lovato with the words “Stay Strong” in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Sunday October 5, 2013. The Dutch man accused of extorting and harassing British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd more than a decade ago has pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Amanda Todd’s mother told a British Columbia Supreme Court that her daughter let out “a shriek” before running downstairs to show her a Facebook profile using a topless photo of the Port Coquitlam teenager as its main image.

Carol Todd testified Tuesday on the second day of the trial of Aydin Coban, a Dutch man who prosecutors say waged a campaign of “sextortion” against the teenager, who died in October 2012 at age 15.

Coban has pleaded not guilty to extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and two counts of possessing child pornography.

Todd told the jury trial that she and Amanda stood in the kitchen in November 2011 looking at the Facebook profile and she recognized that it was “friends” with people her daughter knew in real life, including her classmates.

“She was afraid now, again, of what it would be like going back to school. So she was distressed. And I was distressed with her,” Todd said.

Around that time, she said, Amanda switched schools because of bullying from peers related to the alleged online harassment.

Crown prosecutor Louise Kenworthy told the court on Monday that messages were sent to more than 100 Facebook users who Amanda knew, telling them she had exposed her breasts online and including a link to a website.

Todd told the court that Amanda was a “free spirit” who didn’t always like to follow her mother’s rules, including restrictions on computer and internet use, so the teenager ended up spending more time at her father’s house.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Joseph Saulnier, Todd disagreed that it was “impossible” to keep Amanda from going online, but she often went beyond the parameters that were set.

Todd testified on the opening day of the trial that her heart skipped a beat when she clicked on a link to an adult pornography website that displayed her teenage daughter’s image a few days before Christmas in 2010.

Kenworthy said in her opening statement that Amanda had been the victim of a “persistent campaign” of online “sextortion” from November 2009 to February 2012, before her death by suicide at age 15 in October that year.

Kenworthy said the “sextortionist” had used more than 20 separate usernames to contact the teenager from Port Coquitlam, threatening to send her friends and family photos that showed her with her hand in her underwear and exposing her breasts, unless she performed sexual acts in front of a web camera.

Carol Todd told the jury trial that she took a screen capture and printed a copy of what she saw when she clicked the link in the December 2010 Facebook message.

She said she had planned to report it to RCMP the following morning because it was around 10 p.m., but an officer rang her doorbell around 2 a.m. in order to conduct a “safety check” on Amanda, who was staying with her father at the time.

Kenworthy showed the jury examples of messages sent to the teen via Facebook, YouTube and Skype, including one whose author said they would disappear if she put on “10 shows.”

After receiving the initial message, Todd said she went with Amanda and her father to talk about the situation with police.

Her daughter was quiet and uncommunicative about the incident, Todd said, but after they talked later, she concluded that was because Amanda felt guilt and shame and feared getting in trouble.

Todd agreed with the prosecutor that she encouraged her daughter to tell her if she received any messages, saying she wouldn’t get in trouble and it was for Amanda’s safety.

Todd testified that Amanda was scared when she brought subsequent messages to her attention, and the distress increased with each message.

She said Amanda felt that she was being followed or stalked by an unknown person.

Todd said that when Amanda stayed with her, access to the internet and Todd’s laptop were restricted.

Kenworthy told the jury at the start to the trial Monday that the Crown expected to present evidence and call witnesses to show that the numerous accounts allegedly used to harass and extort Amanda Todd were operated by Coban, who was arrested by Dutch police at his home in January 2014.

Dutch officers searched Coban’s home and seized a desktop computer, a laptop and hard drives, she said, and forensic copies of the devices’ contents were sent to RCMP in B.C.

An RCMP officer who examined the material is expected to testify that he found evidence of accounts allegedly used to harass Amanda on one or more of those seized devices, she said.

The trial will also hear evidence of file names that had referred to the teenager, although the contents of those files were no longer viewable, Kenworthy said.

—The Canadian Press

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