WEST HOLLYWOOD—A man who used the dating app Grindr is now suing the West Hollywood-based company for allegedly pairing him with adult men who sexually abused him when he was a minor.
According to the suit, for more than a decade, Grindr, which purports to have an exclusively adult user base, has known its core product facilitates the sexual predation of children.
“In our society we do not allow adults to sexually abuse children,” states the Santa Monica Superior Court lawsuit filed by the plaintiff identified only as John Doe, who is now an adult and alleges strict products liability and negligence and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The plaintiff was a 15-year-old living in a small town in Nova Scotia who loved music class and video games, but in high school, he had trouble socializing with his classmates and had no friends. He wanted to make friends with other boys who identified as gay or bisexual and downloaded the Grindr app in April 2019 according to the suit.
“Many of these children who experiment with Grindr are youth who do not feel safe coming out as queer in their communities,” the suit states. “As a result, Grindr has created a generation of the already marginalized children whose first LGBTQ+ sexual encounter is with an adult.”
“John Doe knew he was gay, but no one in his family had observed any signs that he was,” the suit states. “He had never dated and did not know how. He was also too ashamed to tell his parents he was gay.”
The app enables children to create online profiles without the permission or knowledge from guardians, then connects adults to the same children for in-person sexual encounters, the suit alleges.
Grindr matched John Doe with four adult men who the plaintiff claims sexually assaulted him over a four day period. Three of those men are now in prison and one remains at large. The plaintiff had to testify against his abusers many times, forcing him to relive his trauma in order to get justice, according to the suit.
John Doe expressed that he was a minor on the Grindr app multiple times.
At least two of the matches occurred while he was on school property and he sent messages using the Grindr app in which he shared photos of himself on campus, the suit states. He also allegedly made statements consistent with his status as a child, including that he lived with his parents and hoped to avoid getting into trouble with them.
“Doe has suffered and continues to suffer, life-changing emotional and psychological injuries caused by Grindr’s failure to create a safe product,” the suit states.
Due to his trauma, the plaintiff never obtained a high school diploma, has no plans to attend college and is unemployed.
Grindr was sued before in 2021 where another user accused them of failing to restrict his access as a minor and allowing him to meet a Brooklyn gynecologist who allegedly abused him sexually.