WARNING: This article contains details of sexual extortion and may affect those who have experienced it or know someone affected by it.
The B.C. Supreme Court justice in the trial of a Dutch man charged with harassing and extorting teenager Amanda Todd told the jury to “take special care” with the teen’s statements Friday, wrapping a weeks-long trial with final instructions to jurors before they begin deliberations.
Justice Martha Devlin said the jury needs to be aware of the limitations of evidence given since Todd’s death in 2012 as she didn’t testify and couldn’t be cross-examined at Aydin Coban’s trial in New Westminster, B.C.
Giving her instructions over several hours Friday, Devlin said jury members should carefully examine the statements Todd gave to her parents, police officers and in her electronic communications when they consider Coban’s verdict.
Coban, 44, has pleaded not guilty to extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and possession and distribution of child pornography at the start of the trial two months ago.
Speaking outside the courthouse Friday, Todd’s mother said she believed the Crown did “a really good job” explaining the complexities of cybercrime, extortion and case law to the jury throughout the trial, while the defence “victim-blamed” and “shamed” her late daughter.
Carol Todd said it was hard to describe her feelings.
“I’m hopeful, but I can’t base my hope on 100 per cent because if I don’t hear those words — ‘guilty’ — five times, I’ll be really upset, I’ll be really disappointed and I’ll go down that rabbit hole. I just have to look at it realistically and hope for the best,” she said.
Before summarizing the evidence and testimony provided in the 38-day trial, Devlin was careful to say Friday that Coban was not charged with Todd’s death.
Todd died by suicide on Oct. 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 around the world after her death, with 14.8 million views as of August.
Crown prosecutor Louise Kenworthy told the jury in her opening statements that Todd had been the victim of a persistent campaign of online “sextortion.”
Todd’s mother, Carol, has attended every day of Coban’s trial, sitting at the back of the courtroom a few metres from the prisoner’s box where the accused sat with his back to her.
THE FIFTH ESTATE | The Sextortion of Amanda Todd
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.
If you or someone you know is struggling, here’s where to get help:
This guide from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health outlines how to talk about suicide with someone you’re worried about.