April 18, 2011

Match.com To Screen Clients Through Sex Offender Registry

Match.com, one of the largest online dating services, said on Sunday that it will begin screening its users against the national sex offender registry. According to the Associated Press (AP), this comes after a customer filed suit against the company alleging she had been assaulted by a man she met through the site.

Mandy Ginsberg, president of the Dallas based company, told AP that they had considered such screenings for years, but, "their historical unreliability has always led us to conclude against it." After talking to providers and advisers over the last few days, Match.com will begin the screening in 2 to 3 months.

"We've been advised that a combination of improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward with this initiative, despite its continued imperfection."

The lawsuit, brought last week by a California person identified only as Jane Doe, says she was sexually assaulted while on a second date at a West Hollywood cafe by a man she met through the site.

Jane Doe's attorney, Mark Webb said his client met a man on Match.com and "she had no reason to believe that he was a convicted sexual offender." The lawsuit claims Jane Doe and the man went on a date that seemed to go well, but by the next date things turned violent.

The lawsuit said the man went to Jane Doe's house after they had dinner and he forced her to perform a sexual act. Separate criminal rape charges are still pending in a Los Angeles court, ABC News reports.

The woman claims the attack could have been prevented with a proper background check and demanded that Match.com start screening for sexual predators.

Match.com spokesman Matthew Traub claims its move to screen users was under consideration prior to this suit and did not come in direct response from the woman's allegations, but the timing of the decision was accelerated by the attention the suit brought.

Ginsberg explains that the company's new policy was no substitute for members being aware of their situations and keeping common sense during meetings.

Some safety tips that the company urges its users to be aware of include always meeting for the first time in public, telling a friend or family member where the date will take place, and staying sober.

"We want to stress that while these checks may help in certain instances, they remain highly flawed, and it is critical that this effort does not provide a false sense of security to our members."