B.C. RCMP announced charges at a news conference late Thursday afternoon against a 35-year-old Dutch citizen in connection with the online sexual extortion of Amanda Todd, the B.C. teen who killed herself in October 2012, and other alleged victims from around the world.
'This is truly a day we've been waiting for' - Carol Todd
"This is truly a day we've been waiting for," said Todd's mother Carol, her voice breaking as she fought back tears. "I always knew deep in my heart that what my daughter told me was the truth."
The man, whose identity has not been released, is facing five charges, including extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment and the possession and distribution of child pornography.
Coquitlam, B.C., RCMP Insp. Paulette Freill told reporters that authorities in the Netherlands arrested a Dutch citizen in January in relation to an investigation in that country involving Dutch victims.
Freill says Coquitlam RCMP launched an investigation in December 2010 that involved more than 30 police officers. She says the investigation eventually expanded to include local and international investigators and experts.
The National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre says the investigation includes victims from Canada and other countries.
Insp. Bob Resch says the majority of the victims identified in Canada are children.
"All the police forces and jurisdictions where those victims are located have been notified and been in contact with those victims and have advanced their investigations accordingly," he said.
Carol Todd says Amanda's story has touched a lot of people around the world. She hopes the added attention will result in the arrest of more offenders who target young people.
"It is our hope that Amanda’s case will help the international community to work together to target and find those who commit crimes of exploitation against children and youth," Todd said.
Dutch media identified Todd
Earlier in the day, the Dutch media organization Omroep Brabant published news identifying Todd as one of the victims in the Netherlands case.
The journalist who broke the story in the Netherlands, Mathijs Pennings, told CBC News the man arrested is a Dutch national, who is accused of blackmailing numerous minors after recording their webcam activities. He is also alleged to have extorted older male victims for money.
His alleged victims include individuals from Europe, the U.K. and Canada, Pennings said.
The man allegedly told the Canadian girl to undress in front of a webcam, which she did, and then he saved those images in order to blackmail her, Omroep Brabant reported.
Amanda's mother told CBC that she was in shock at the news. She said RCMP told her there was an overseas development in the case two months ago.
"There were multiple people in those chat rooms," Carol Todd said. "So this would hopefully be the first layer of many layers that they could uncover."