Woman sues Match.com over sexual assault on date

Paula Duffy's picture

A Los Angeles woman has filed a request for an injunction against dating site Match.com after a bad second date.

The woman who has refused to give her name to media, is listed in this week's court filing as Jane Doe. She agreed to an interview with the local ABC television affiliate, KABC Channel 7 and described what she called a harrowing experience.

Claiming she is savvy in the ways of internet dating, she was pleased when she saw an email from the man who described himself as "...into golf and tennis...art and culture, travel and food." He also wrote that he had a house on the hills above Malibu.

After a short meet-up at a local cafe that went well, a second date was arranged. The trouble began when they returned to her home after the evening's outing. From her interview with KABC: "He went straight into the bathroom when he came in my place and I sat down on the couch and waited for him. Then he came out of the bathroom and jumped me and forced me to have oral sex and then he left."

After her initial shock and disgust subsided, Jane Doe availed herself of public information that is readily available online. She found that her date had been convicted of sexual battery. Her suit against Match.com asks that it cease any further operations until it agrees to screen its members for sexual crimes using accessible databases.

Match.com provides information for members about how to carefully choose dating candidates, including how to keep themselves safe. The onus is put on the customer, not the site to check into the background of potential dates. In a section of the Match.com site it recommends safety measures specifically aimed at advising members who decide to meet a potential dating partner.

Included in its do's and don'ts are the following: "Get to know the other person online before meeting them offline. Use the tools available through Match.com that protect your anonymity to get to know someone before meeting them in person. If you would like more information about someone, we recommend using the internet and government resources available to everyone."

Jane Doe reported the incident to the dating site which claims that any violations of its rules will result in termination of the person's privileges on Match.com From the facts contained in the lawsuit it is not clear if anyone else experienced a similar situation with the man in question, which would have resulted in his name being removed from the site.

If so, the site could have liability if it failed in its duty to keep a rule-breaker from having access to the database of dating partners. It is possible that if another woman fell prey to this man, she might not have notified the site or that Jane Doe is the alleged assailant's first victim at Match.com.

In January 2011 a class action was filed against Match.com over profiles of prospective dates that belong to inactive or fake users who cannot be contacted. The suit alleges that Match.com failed to remove the inactive profiles and failed to police Match.com for fake profiles. That case is pending in a U.S. District court in Dallas, Texas.

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