Dutch police have arrested a 35-year-old man believed to be behind to the extortion of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old girl who took her own life after being blackmailed online and bullied at school.
A spokesman for the National Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Netherlands confirmed a man was arrested in January on a series of charges stemming from a “illegal webcam sex investigation.”
Spokesman Paul van der Zanden would not confirm that any of the charges relate to Todd’s case, although the man’s lawyer verified the links to Todd via Twitter. The links to the Todd case are also being reported by Dutch media outlets Omroep Brabant and BN DeStem.
“I can’t comment on that at this moment,” said van der Zanden Thursday.
“The case is still under investigation and this person is facing several charges … It’s too early to say what sentence he will face.”
Under Dutch law, the man will not be named until later in the judicial process.
He appeared in court Wednesday and was detained for three more months on charges of indecent assault, the production and dissemination of child pornography, fraud, computer intrusion and the possession of hard drugs.
According to a press release issued by the Dutch prosecutor’s office, the man is suspected of approaching underage girls via the internet and seducing them into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam.
He would save images and use them to blackmail the girls, targeting dozens of girls in several countries, including the Netherlands, the U.K, and the U.S. The man is also accused of blackmailing men.
The allegations are strikingly similar to an encounter described in a video posted to YouTube by Todd, then 15, a month before she took her own life in 2012.
The heartbreaking video, viewed more than 17 million times, documented years of torment Todd endured as the target of bullies online and at school.
In hand-written notes, the teen described being asked to flash her breasts online and how that one indiscretion spiraled out of control.
Todd – who lived in Port Coquitlam at the time of her death, but previously attended schools in Maple Ridge, where some bullying occurred – wrote that her blackmailer sent the screen shot to her classmates and continued to extort her even when she switched schools.
The RCMP in British Columbia is aware of the investigation in the Netherlands, but would not release any details prior to a press conference Thursday evening.
Todd’s mother Carol learned about the arrest through media reports. She still believes there are more people who blackmailed and bullied her daughter, including some who live in B.C. and wants RCMP to continue investigating those links.
“This is probably a piece of the investigation,” she said.
Todd now leads the Amanda Todd Legacy Foundation, which advocates for youth mental health issues, supports anti-bullying initiatives and teach children about cyber safety.