On the same day the story of Amanda's bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide was extensively covered in the media, the Lower Mainland District RCMP announced a full investigation will be undertaken.
As Digital Journal reported yesterday, 15-year-old Amanda Todd was found dead in her home on Wednesday. It has now been confirmed the troubled teen took her own life.
Amanda's bullying began two years ago when she was using a webcam with friends. At the request of a boy she met online, she flashed her breasts. Police knocked on her door early on Christmas Eve of that year to tell her the picture had been posted online. This began her slide into depression that included anxiety, substance abuse, and cutting herself.
In the past two years Amanda had been bullied both online and in real life. She changed schools but was beaten up by a group of teens in front of her new school. When she attempted to kill herself by drinking bleach, she was subjected to online taunts that said it was too bad she was not dead.
On Sept. 7 of this year, Amanda uploaded a video on YouTube describing her ordeal. In the video that does not have sound, the 15-year-old held up written messages to the camera. Five weeks later she was dead.
Her death received substantial coverage in the Canadian and international media on Friday and the video she posted went viral. In the early afternoon, the police investigation was announced. In a media release, Sgt. Peter Thiessen says, "Serious crime teams in Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows are working together, conducting interviews and reviewing any potential contributing factors to her death." Thiessen added officers will be reviewing and monitoring social media sites.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Thiessen is quoted as saying, "There are a number of areas within the Criminal Code that could be applied. Those involved in bullying, depending on the form of the bullying and what the end result of the bullying is, certainly can result in criminal charges." But the Star goes on to say that Theissen "declined" to name what possible charges could be brought.
According to Thiessen, obtaining evidence in this case is "extremely difficult."
Possible, but not very likely, are assault charges stemming from the beating Amanda took outside her new school. But given the passage of time and the fact the victim is dead and cannot testify as to who did what, makes it almost impossible to launch a prosecution.
Those who have the picture of Amanda flashing and those who posted it online or sent it to others, could be prosecuted for child pornography offences. Regardless of Amanda's willingness to provide the picture, a picture of an underage girl exposing her breasts constitutes a child pornography image. Charges of possessing and distributing child pornography could be laid.
A prosecution for defamatory libel is also possible. As Digital Journal reported, an Oshawa, Ontario man was charged with that offence after he sent sexting pictures, willingly provided to him by his now ex-girlfriend, to her friends, family, and place of employment. To obtain a conviction for defamatory libel, prosecutors must prove the pictures were published with the intent to expose Amanda to hatred, contempt or ridicule or for the purpose of insulting her.
Police are requesting the public's help in their investigation and have created a special email account. Anyone with any information is asked to contact them at AmandaTODDinfo@rcmp-grc-gc.ca.