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Entries in Match.com (5)

Wednesday
Aug242011

Match.com Agrees to Conduct Sex Offender Screenings to Settle Lawsuit

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Finding your mate online is about to get a little safer. Match.com, the Internet dating site, has agreed to conduct background checks on its members in order to settle a lawsuit brought by 54-year-old Carole Markin, who was raped by a man she met on the dating site. The man, 67-year-old Alan Wurtzel, had six prior convictions for sexual offenses.

Mark Webb, Markin's attorney, said, "When you're right and you can show you're right…and you can get a big huge company to agree that change has to happen, it's a wonderful thing." Webb expects the other big dating sites like eHarmony to follow Match.com's lead and institute background checks.

Prior to Markin's lawsuit, Match.com was not conducting background checks of any kind on its members.

"Before we filed the lawsuit, we asked them to do federal, state and local checks for sex offenders. They refused. We filed the lawsuit, and within three days they reversed their position and said, O.K., we'll do federal. We said, That's not enough. Now yesterday they have finally announced they will do all three," said Webb.

Doing a background check with all levels of government is particularly important, said Webb, because an offender like Wurtzel would not have been exposed by just looking for his name on the federal sex offender registry. He was only listed in the L.A. county registry.

Like millions of single women -- and men -- Markin, a Los Angeles entertainment executive, was looking for love online when she signed up with Match.com.

She had had several previous positive experiences with men she met through Internet dating. "They were nice, successful guys. Maybe they shaved a few years off their age and a few pounds off their profile…but I never, ever thought I would be encountering a criminal," said Markin.

Markin said that she decided to sue because "it's not just a passive situation...they do send you matches. So I thought they had some responsibility."

Why it took so long for sites like Match.com to institute basic security measures for their members is anyone's guess. Calls and emails to a spokesperson for the website were not returned to ABC News. There are disclaimers on Match.com, and sites like it, that advise members to meet in public places and take other precautions.

Webb said he isn't 100-percent certain how Match.com will actually go about performing background checks on their members, but he believes it will involve using information culled from the credit cards every member must have to sign up and pay for the monthly service. He also sounded a cautionary note.

"This is not an insurance policy. The members have a responsibility too…nothing is ever going to be 100-percent foolproof," said Webb.

Alan Wurtzel pleaded no contest to a charge of sexual battery against Carole Markin last week. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.

As for Markin, she is proud that her lawsuit could protect people and that Match.com has agreed to make its service safer. She said she might "stick [her] toe in the [dating] water a little bit … I just don't know yet."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Federal Judge Sends Match.com Sex Assault Suit to State Court

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A federal court in California ruled not to dismiss the case of a woman Monday who claims Match.com is responsible for her sexual assault by a known sex offender.

Without hearing from a single witness, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled Carol Markin's suit against the online matchmaker be sent to state court, saying she has no standing in federal court. 

Markin wants the court to order Match.com to implement tougher systems to screen for sex offenders.  The website's attorneys say they are trying, but screening out all sexual offenders is an impossible task.  

Because Match.com does not request Social Security numbers from its users, anything they could find would not be conclusive.

Attorney Bob Platt says Match.com cannot control what happens during the dates its members go on.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio Web Service

Tuesday
Apr192011

Woman Suing Match.Com Over Alleged Assault Comes Forward

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The once anonymous woman who filed a lawsuit against the online dating website Match.com because of an alleged sexual assault has come forward to say she's glad her suit got results.

"I'm tired of hiding behind masks and glasses," said Carole Markin on ABC’s Good Morning America. "I want to come forward and speak for the other Jane Does and Joe Blows who've been abused by sexual predators and give them courage to do something for themselves."

Last week, Markin, then only publically identified only as Jane Doe, filed the civil lawsuit asking a court to force Match.com to install a sex offender screening system that checks the background of those who register for the site.

The lawsuit had asked for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would prevent new members from signing up for Match.com until such a program is instituted. It claims Markin and the man went on a date that turned violent.

The lawsuit said the man went to Markin's house after they had dinner last May and he forced her to perform a sexual act. Alan Paul Wurtzel was arrested and charged but no trial date has been set. Wurtzel's attorney maintains the sexual encounter was consensual and a trial date has not been set in that case.

Match.com officials announced Sunday it will start to screen users against a national sex offenders registry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr182011

Match.com to Begin Checking Users Against Sex Offender Database

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Just days after a California woman filed a lawsuit claiming a popular online dating site is responsible for her sexual assault, Match.com officials announced Sunday they will now start to screen users against a national sex offenders registry.

The move comes after a Match.com attorney said in a news conference last week that setting up a screening system wasn't possible.

Last week, the woman, publically identified only as Jane Doe, filed the civil lawsuit asking a court to force Match.com to install a sex offender screening system that checks a members' background when they register for the site.

The lawsuit had asked for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would prevent new members from signing up for Match.com until such a program is instituted.

Jane Doe is described as an Ivy League graduate who works in film and television industry, according to her attorney, Mark Webb.

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 home 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.

According to Webb, the suspect has a violent history that includes sex assault cases that should have been caught by Match.com before he was allowed to post a profile on the site.

Webb said since Match.com is a successful website, they should have the resources to install a system that could verify that a user is not a sexual predator.

Webb said his client is not asking for money in the current lawsuit but instead to trigger a change in the world of online dating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Woman Sues Match.com over Sex Assault

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Millions of people swear by online dating sites like Match.com, but a California entertainment executive claims the website is responsible for her sexual attack.

The woman, publically identified only as Jane Doe, is filing a civil lawsuit asking a court to force Match.com to install a sex offender screening program that scans a member's background when they sign up for the site. The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would prevent new members from signing up for Match.com until such a program is instituted.

"When somebody uses their credit card to pay, they [would] basically run the card through a sexual offender database," said Jane Doe's attorney, Mark Webb.

However, an attorney for Match.com told reporters outside of Webb's news conference that setting up such a screening system is not possible.

Webb described his client as an Ivy League graduate who works in film and television. She met a man on Match.com and, Webb said, "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 second date things turned violent. The lawsuit maintains 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 pending in a Los Angeles court.

According to Webb, the suspect has a violent history involving sex assault cases that should have been caught by Match.com before he was allowed to post a profile on the site.

Match.com is a very successful website, Webb said, and should have the means to install a system that could verify that a user is not a sexual predator.

According to Match.com, it tells its members to check out safety tips on the site, that it is their sole responsibility for screening other members and that what happens on dates is not the responsibility of the company.

In a previous statement, Match.com said: "While incidents like this one between individuals who meet on Match.com are extremely rare, it doesn't make them any less horrifying."

Jane Doe is not asking for money in the current lawsuit. She is not suing to make a buck, Webb said, but instead to create change in the world of online dating.

In a statement read to reporters, the woman said, "This horrific ordeal completely blindsided me because I had considered myself savvy about online dating safety."

Because the civil lawsuit was just filed, arguments have not yet been heard in court.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio