A Dutch man is accused of sexually exploiting and blackmailing Amanda Todd, a Port Coquitlam teen who killed herself in 2012 following years of torment online.
The 35-year-old man is facing five charges in Canada, including extortion, Internet luring, criminal harassment, as well as possession and distribution of child pornography.
"This is truly a day we've been waiting for," Todd's mother Carol said as she fought back tears at a press conference Thursday. "I always knew deep in my heart that what my daughter told me was the truth. Now our RCMP have helped and supported us in finding an answer."
The man was arrested by Dutch police in January on different allegations involving victims in the Netherlands.
His name is not being released to protect the integrity of the Dutch investigation.
This marks a major milestone in our investigation, said Coquitlam RCMP Insp. Paulette Freill, adding that 30 officers were involved.
Coquitlam RCMP began investigating the Todd case in December 2010, when sexually explicit images of the teen, just 13 at the time, began circulating online.
In September 2012, a month before she took her own life, Amanda Todd posted a heart-breaking video to YouTube detailing years of years of torment she 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.
Her account is strikingly similar to allegations levelled against the Dutch man, who is accused 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 them in several countries, including the Netherlands, the U.K, and the U.S. The man is also accused of extorting men in a similar way for money.
Insp. Bob Resch, with the National Child Exploitation Centre, said there are other victims in Canada, although he wouldn't say how many or where they were located.
"These crimes have no boundaries," said Resch.
B.C. Crown Counsel confirmed it will be seeking to extradite the man.