As a result of the publicity surrounding a lawsuit that was filed by an anonymous woman against Match.com, the online dating company will begin screening for sex offenders, according to The Washington Post.
The woman, known only as Jane Doe, claims she was sexually assaulted after using the service to find a serious relationship, which eventually led her on a date with a man named Alan Paul Wurtzel. According to ABC Los Angeles, Wurtzel has been convicted of sexual battery six separate times, and in the past had used Craigslist to lure women to his apartment - however Match.com still granted him membership. "This horrific ordeal completely blindsided me because I had considered myself savvy about online dating safety," said Doe, a successful Hollywood TV executive. "It started with what seemed like a pleasant date at Urth Cafe in West Hollywood. Things quickly turned into a nightmare, beyond my control. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers in online dating and realize that it can happen to them." The Washington Post adds that Match.com had considered screening its users against the National Sex Offender Registry, but hesitated because it has been historically unreliable. Mandy Ginsberg, Match.com president, explains that the lawsuit was simply the icing on the cake. "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," Ginsberg told the media outlet. However, Ginsberg preaches that the new security development is still no substitute for remaining vigilant on dates. Plus, Match.com provides safety tips for users to avoid situations such as Jane Doe's. Suggestions include always meeting for the first time in public, telling a friend or family member where the date will take place and staying sober, explains the news source. A Match.com spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, "There are steps you can take to protect yourself online and offline, whether you met someone on an online dating service, through an acquaintance or at a bar." Doe's attorney, Mark L. Webb, believes the website should also take into account that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and that all reputable online dating sites should consider voluntarily instituting a basic screening process that disqualifies membership to anyone with a documented history of sexual assault.