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Social media posts made Amanda Todd afraid to return to school, mother tells court

“She was distressed and I was distressed with her,” Carol Todd testifies
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Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd, with supporters outside BC Supreme Court.

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The mother of Port Coquitlam student Amanda Todd continued her testimony on the witness stand at BC Supreme Court in New Westminster on Tuesday morning (June 7).

Carol Todd told the court about several messages her daughter received that impacted her mental health and made her fearful of returning to school.

One such message was received on Nov. 12, 2011 — about a year before Amanda died — from someone on Facebook. Amanda, who was living with her father in Maple Ridge at the time, was visiting with Todd at her Port Coquitlam home when the incident occurred.

“I heard a shriek and Amanda came running downstairs,” Todd told Madam Justice Martha Devlin and the jury on the second day of the trial for Aydin Coban.

Todd asked her 14-year-old daughter what the problem was. Someone named “Austin Collins” had used a topless image of Amanda as their profile photo on the social media platform and had befriended Amanda’s Facebook friends.

There was also a reference to Amanda’s school in Grade 8: Westview Secondary School in Maple Ridge.

Amanda asked her mother, “Mom, what are we going to do?”

“She was afraid now what it would be like going back to school. She was distressed and I was distressed with her,” Todd told the jury.

“After this message, she didn’t want to attend school anymore. If she did, it was very sporadic.”

By December 2011, Todd said Amanda stopped going to school because of her fear of her peers, as well as her anxiety and PTSD.

Coban, a native of The Netherlands, is on trial for five counts. On Monday (June 6), he pleaded not guilty to:

  • extortion
  • importing and distributing child pornography
  • possession of child pornography
  • communicating with the intent to lure a child
  • criminal harassment

The charges cover the period of November 2009 to February 2012. Crown Counsel alleges Coban used 22 fake accounts to “sextort” Amanda.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Social media rules 

Todd told the court that she had strict rules in her Port Coquitlam home about Amanda’s prominent use of social media channels.

In November 2009, Amanda was living with Todd; however, the two often conflicted about her computer use. At Todd’s home, internet use was restricted, Todd said, but “outside my home I didn’t have access to do that. She was angry with me. She was angry with the rules.”

The court heard how Amanda had multiple online accounts and aliases — the names of which were read out to the jury — and on multiple online platforms. 

During cross-examination by defence lawyer, Joe Saulnier, Todd said the “Austin Collins” profile image of a bare-breasted Amanda was taken down a few hours later, but the damage was done: She transferred to Maple Ridge Secondary School in January 2012. 

Saulnier also asked Todd about ways she tried to keep Amanda safe online. RCMP made recommendations to the family in January 2011 after she received a message from a fake user called “Alice McAllister.” 

Amanda agreed to take a break but, after a few months, Carol and Norm Todd agreed to allow their daughter “to return to the Facebook world.”

Carol Todd also convinced her daughter to remove the non-friends from her Facebook account; however, she usually had more than 1,000 friends, she said.

Todd told the jury that Amanda occasionally blocked her mother, who was Amanda's Facebook friend, from monitoring her account.

The trial continues.