Alleged Rape Victim Sues Match.com
Posted by Amy Oppenheim on Apr 19, 2011 - 11:59:52 PM
HOLLYWOOD—Match.com must now begin cross-referencing its members against the National Sex Offender Registry as a result of a lawsuit filed on April 13 by a woman alleging she was raped by another site member.
The class action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that the woman, who has only been identified as Jane Doe, was raped by a man named Alan Wurtzel, who has reportedly been convicted for sexual battery six times.
The alleged victim claims the rape was a result of Match.com failing “to undertake a basic screening process [emphasis provided] that disqualifies from membership anyone who has a documented history of sexual assault," according to the lawsuit.
The woman, who is described as an Ivy League graduate who works in the film and television industry in Hollywood, was reportedly raped by Wurtzel during her second date with him in 2010. She claims he followed her into her residence following the date and sexually assaulted her inside the home.
Her face and voice have been disguised throughout the lawsuit to protect her identity, but the class action names all of Match.com’s paying female members from August 2010 to the present as plaintiffs, in addition to the alleged victim.
Match.com has been asked by the defendant’s attorney to temporarily bar any more members from signing up until the company’s background checking methods are improved.
However, Match.com U.S.’s president, Mandy Ginsberg, has released a statement saying that even with higher criminal background checking standards, the website could still not guarantee "the actions of all its members."
Nonetheless, the president has maintained that "improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward" with an urgency it had previously lacked due to a belief that background checks are “historically unreliable.”
Match.com competitor eHarmony.com has pointed out that it already cross-checks its members with all public sex offender lists, and that this guiding principle "has allowed us to keep many known registered sex offenders off of our service," according to a press release.
Still, eHarmony.com warns that background checks are not enough to ensure members’ safety, and that people should use their own good judgment to help prevent incidents like this.
eHarmony.com has published a list of safety tips for online dating on its blog, and urges its users to follow all guidelines.