WARNING: This article contains details about sexual harassment and may affect those who have experienced it or know someone who has.
Dutch national Aydin Coban has been convicted of extortion, two counts of possession of child pornography, child luring and criminal harassment against Amanda Todd, the BC teenager whose story spread across the globe after she died by suicide nearly a decade ago.
A jury returned the verdict in Superior Court in New Westminster, BC, after a day of deliberation.
Todd’s mother, Carol Todd, sat in the back row of the audience gallery Saturday, taking notes. She repositioned herself as Coban returned to the courtroom within his line of sight.
She reacted strongly as each guilty verdict was read out in court.
Coban, wearing a navy blue button-down shirt, showed little reaction as the verdict was read.
Their verdict comes after seven weeks of testimony involving dozens of witnesses, exhibits and evidence presented by Crown prosecutors ahead of the start of closing arguments.
Coban’s defense attorney did not call evidence at the trial.
On Friday, BC Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin spent the day instructing the jury that they could only find Coban guilty of the charges against him if the Crown had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, she said, they must acquit him.
Over the course of several hours, Devlin reviewed testimony and evidence that had been presented to jurors during the long and complex trial. She guided the jurors through the definition of each criminal case sworn against Coban and explained to them the criteria the Crown had to meet in order to convict.
Todd died by suicide on October 10, 2012 at the age of 15 after being exploited online over a period of three years. Before she died, she told her story in a nine-minute video posted on YouTube.
The video spread worldwide after her death, with 14.8 million views in August.
Coban, 44, had pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges related to Todd’s case, including extortion, possession of child pornography and child luring. He was not charged in Todd’s death.
Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy gave her closing arguments earlier last week, saying there was a “treasure trove of information” linking Coban to the harassment and extortion of Todd.
Earlier in the trial, a Dutch officer testified that a deleted video file called “AmandaTodd.wmv” had been played on one of the devices in December 2010, which corresponds to a time when Todd was being actively harassed.
But Coban’s defense argued that sharing a link is “not child pornography.”
The video was sent out as a link, but there was nothing to show it was stored as data on the seized devices, Joseph Saulnier told the jury on the second day of his closing arguments.
Defense counsel also contested the Crown’s claims that Coban was behind 22 online accounts that harassed and blackmailed Todd.
Earlier in the trial, the jury heard from a BC RCMP officer who had originally investigated Todd’s harassment allegations in 2011. He said Todd wanted the harassing messages she was receiving to stop.
Todd’s parents went to the police when the messages to their daughter continued even after she changed schools.
Todd’s mother, Carol, has attended every day of Coban’s trial, sitting in the back of the courtroom a few feet from the prisoner’s box. The accused sat with his back to her.