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Online Dating Sites Begin Screening For Sex Offenders

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Although a lawsuit against Match.com by a woman sexually assaulted by her date was settled out of court, it will likely have repercussions throughout the online dating industry.

The 54 year old victim was assaulted on her second date with 67 year old Alan Paul Wurtzel. Similar to millions of other users of online dating sites, she had come to trust the site’s screening procedures over the course of the seven years she had used it. It was only after the assault, following a simple Internet search, that she discovered she had been dating a man with 6 sex offense convictions on his record. Her subsequent lawsuit against Match.com did not request monetary compensation, but demanded the site screen users against the available sex offender lists.

In a strictly legal sense, she may not have been able to win. Dating sites have long maintained legal disclaimers warning they are in no way responsible for any harm that could result and courts have upheld them. However, legal experts suggest that since dating sites promote their ability to screen people for compatibility, there is an implied, converse responsibility to screen against possibly harmful matches.

As a result of the settlement, Match.com has begun the process of filtering out sex offenders. Other popular sites such as eHarmony and Zoosk have announced they will begin screening or have made public their current screening policy.



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