Aydin Coban sentenced to 13 years for sexual extortion of Amanda Todd

WARNING: This article provides details of sexual blackmail and may affect those who have experienced it or know someone who has been affected.

The 44-year-old Dutchman convicted of sexually extorting a BC teenager who died by suicide a decade ago was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday.

BC Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin asked Aydin Coban to stand as she read out her final decision after detailing the arguments put forward by the Crown and the defense and explaining her deliberative process.

Coban was found guilty in August of racketeering, possession of two counts of child pornography, baiting children and criminally molesting Amanda Todd.

Todd’s story of being exploited online from November 2009 to February 2012 went around the world. She died by suicide on October 10, 2012 after uploading a nine-minute video detailing the abuse she had experienced and how it had impacted her life in a series of flashcards.

As she stood outside the courthouse on Friday afternoon, Amanda’s mother, Carol Todd, described the moment she heard the verdict.

“It was just a breathtaking moment,” she said. “As stunning as August 6th when I heard the five counts.”

During the sentencing hearing, Devlin detailed how Coban used 22 different aliases to chat and request webcam shows with Amanda Todd on Facebook, YouTube and Skype. He sent her more than 700 messages and made “constant online threats,” according to Devlin.

Coban threatened to send her friends and family pictures and videos of Todd in compromising positions.

“When Amanda refused to comply with his demands, Mr. Coban carried out his threats,” Judge Devlin said, describing a series of threats Coban had made under various aliases to Todd, her family and friends.

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Coban posted and shared lewd and pornographic images of Todd on Facebook, in YouTube comments, and uploaded them to image hosting sites. He also used some of his alias accounts to impersonate a young friend and a concerned adult on various occasions, and claimed to be concerned about their behavior online.

Devlin said while she didn’t find Coban’s behavior to be the “dominant factor” in her suicide, as claimed by the Crown, she found it caused “profound damage” that contributed to her mental health issues, depression and drug use.

“Ruining Amanda’s life was Mr. Coban’s stated goal and unfortunately one he achieved,” she said.

Amanda Todd smiles in a selfie.  She wears a gold cross and a white top.
Amanda Todd took her own life on October 10, 2012 after posting a video on YouTube claiming she was being blackmailed by an online predator. (Telus originals)

“Today is justice for Amanda,” Mom says

Before the hearing, Carol Todd said her heart was beating “a million beats a minute” as she awaited the verdict and that she felt her daughter’s desire to help other vulnerable young children was granted.

“It set precedent for any other case that might go to trial,” she said. “It sets the bar… and hopefully for those predators who bully kids, they won’t get lenient sentences.”

A woman stares at the sky with tears in her eyes.
Carol Todd’s eyes fill with tears following the sentencing of Aydin Coban in New Westminster, BC on Friday October 14, 2022. Coban is sentenced to 13 years in Canadian prison for sexually extorting Amanda Todd. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Todd recounted the 13 years that had passed since Amanda first fell victim to Coban and the ten years since her daughter’s death. She said she was persistent in making sure Amanda’s story was shared with the world and that as many people as possible knew about so-called “sextortion” and online predators.

“Today is justice for Amanda – justice for all children,” she said.

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“I can’t bring Amanda back. But with Amanda’s story, we can save others.”

Todd said the conviction doesn’t necessarily bring a sense of closure to her devastating loss, but it does allow her to begin a new chapter as a lawyer. After completing the process, she plans to focus her energies more on raising awareness of online sexual exploitation and working to prevent other young people from becoming victims.

Accountability is “encouraging,” proponents say.

In a statement, the Canadian Center for Child Protection (CCCP) said his “hearts are with the Todd family” following Friday’s sentencing.

The CCCP said “it is encouraging that Canada’s justice system has done its part to hold the perpetrator accountable for these crimes,” adding that it hopes more of these types of perpetrators will face the same consequences.

“Canadian children are increasingly being exploited in digital environments, both here and abroad,” the statement said. The CCCP says Canadians “owe it to Amanda Todd” for demanding regulations and safety standards for the online services and platforms children use every day.

The BC Prosecution Service also issued a statement thanking law enforcement and police forces in British Columbia, Canada, the Netherlands, the US, Australia and the UK for helping them complete a “difficult and complex prosecution.”

In her conclusion, Devlin warned young people about the dangers of using the internet and the ease with which adults can hide their identities when interacting with vulnerable children.

Coban was extradited to Canada to stand trial and is currently being held in the Netherlands for similar offenses against various victims. He will serve his Canadian sentence there after his release.

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There is support for anyone who has been sexually abused. Here you can access hotlines and local support services Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you are in imminent danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.

If you or someone you know is struggling, get help here:

This guide from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health describes how to talk about suicide with someone you are worried about.

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