Man arrested in Amanda Todd case may have exploited 10 Canadians
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, April 18, 2014 9:59PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 18, 2014 11:01PM EDT
Amanda Todd was one of 10 Canadians, and about 100 worldwide, who police believe were targeted by a man who's been arrested in connection with the 15-year-old British Columbia girl's death, CTV News has learned.
Dutch investigators said Friday that 30 to 40 online exploitation cases in the Netherlands, and "dozens" of others abroad, have been linked to 35-year-old Aydin Coban of the Netherlands.
The RCMP confirmed Thursday that the suspect was arrested in the Netherlands and charged with extortion, luring and criminal harassment and possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution.
Dutch prosecutors said he's also suspected of blackmailing others in the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands, many whom have yet to be identified.
RCMP said they would seek an extradition order so the man could face charges in Canada in connection with Todd's death.
Investigators told CTV News that the other Canadians believed to have been targeted by Coban have been identified by the RCMP and offered support and counselling services.
While police wouldn't confirm the ages of the Canadians, investigators said all victims appeared to be "vulnerable."
"The arrest in this case sends a huge message to adults that you may think you're anonymous, that you can perpetrate these heinous acts, but you're not truly anonymous," Bill Belsey, president of Bullying.org, told CTV News. "We leave our digital footprint behind."
Coban has been in detention since he was arrested in January. He lived alone, and has no wife or children.
Prosecutors first publicized his case after a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, at which his detention was extended for three months.
"The suspicions against the man are that he approached underage girls via the Internet and then seduced them into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam," prosecutors said in a statement.
"He is suspected of subsequently pressurizing them to participate in making new material."
Officials say the man is also suspected of blackmailing adult men by posing as an underage boy, convincing them to perform sexual acts on camera, and then threatening to turn the images over to the police.
Coban must first go through Dutch legal proceedings before he can be extradited to Canada to face separate charges.
Coban's lawyer said he doesn't believe prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict his client. He has also suggested that Coban’s computer could have been hacked.
Coban has not entered a plea and his lawyer said he's exercising his right to remain silent.
Todd made international headlines after she died of suicide in October 2012.
Two weeks before her death, the British Columbia teen posted a video to YouTube in which she described the harassment she suffered. Much of the bullying stemmed from a webcam photo in which she was lured by a stranger to expose her breasts.
The picture ended up on a Facebook page made by the stranger, to which her friends were added.
With a report from CTV’s Katie Simpson and files from The Canadian Press