|Amanda Todd. (Screengrab)
VANCOUVER -- Rumours circulating around a man accused of being involved in Amanda Todd’s suicide have Mounties and police dedicating officers to dispel online gossip.
A New Westminster address and a man’s name were released, shortly after Todd’s death last Wednesday, by a group claiming to be Internet activist collective Anonymous.
Todd, 15, killed herself after enduring years of bullying and being stalked by an unnamed online predator who friends say used different online aliases.
Apart from responding to speculation about the identified man, Mounties said investigators were distracted “for hours” dealing with a more disturbing rumour of the “supposed release of Amanda Todd’s autopsy photos.”
In a statement Tuesday, RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said the allegation against the man was “unfounded” and no autopsy photos were ever leaked.
Additionally, some have put up fake fundraising pages, presumably to "profit” from Todd’s death.
“We want to urge everyone who has been touched by Amanda’s story to respect Amanda’s memory by being a responsible citizen of the Internet,” Thiessen said.
The case has gathered so much online attention that on Tuesday, New Westminster police had a patrol car camped outside the address that was published by Anonymous.
“The people that live there have nothing to do with the Amanda Todd case at all,” said New West Sgt. Diana McDaniel, adding there are no police records of the named man living in the city.
“We’re helping the residents because unfortunately they have no idea or any involvement at all in this case. I don’t know how long we’ll be there, it’ll be dependent on the situation.”
A man with a similar name as the one published by Anonymous appeared in Surrey Provincial Court Tuesday on a charge each of sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under 16.
But there are several differences, such as a different age and name spelling. The man named by Anonymous is 32-years-old, while the man in court is 19. The former appears to use a shortened version of the latter’s name, though both share the same last name.
According to CTV, the 19-year-old knew Todd, but had already talked to police.
RCMP investigated that file before the courts in early September. Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the allegations are dated between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1 and are unrelated to Todd in any way.
Twitter account Anonymous New Jersey claimed responsibility for naming the man and tweeted on Tuesday, they were “off” on the man’s address and name.
“Everything I got is circumstantial,” the group tweeted later.
Anonymous’ original post identifying the man also suggested there were uncertain pieces of information, saying, “At the most this is the person who did this to Amanda Todd and at the least it’s another pedophile that enjoys taking advantage of children.”
B.C. Premier Christy Clark, speaking in Nanaimo Tuesday, said the public needs to stop reposting false information and look at everything online with a critical eye.
“It’s so easy for people to anonymously say anything they want about everyone,” she told reporters. “It can be grossly unfair and completely unproved.”
Since Todd’s death, Mounties have received thousands of tips from the public through AmandaToddInfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.