Do dating sites have a responsibility to protect their users from sexual predators?
One Los Angeles woman thinks so, and has filed suit against Match.com after she says a date she met on the site sexually assaulted her.
Her goal is to force the site to check members' names against public sex offender registries.
The victim, an entertainment executive in Hollywood, met the alleged assailant, Alan Paul Wurtzel, via Match.com. They enjoyed their first date, and scheduled second, reports the Daily News.
After their second date, Wurtzel followed her into her apartment and then reportedly sexually assaulted her. After he left, the paper reports that she Googled his name, finding that a Alan Paul Wurtzel was publicly listed as having several prior convictions for sexual battery.
Based on the information provided to the press by the victim's attorney, she doesn't appear to have a meritorious lawsuit against Match.
For one, the company's attorney has stated that the website specifically states that they do not conduct background checks. User terms--which members agree to--also state that they are not liable for such incidents.
Background checks of members are known to not be part of the service, and users are instructed to plan for their own safety. Because of this, it appears as though Match.com did not breach any duty that it owed to the woman.
Moreover, this was the woman's second date with Alan Paul Wurtzel. It's imaginable that Match could be held liable for the initial date, but once the two met and decided to continue seeing each other, their interactions were probably outside of Match's scope of liability.
Even if the victim doesn't have a valid legal claim, this is a terribly sad situation that really pinpoints just how vigilant individuals need to be about personal safety.
- Woman sues online dating site over alleged sexual assault (Los Angeles Times)
- Community Notification Laws (FindLaw)
- Should States Mandate That Online Dating Sites Do Criminal Background Checks of their Users? (FindLaw's Writ)
- Should Dating or Social Networking Sites Be Required to Screen Users? (FindLaw Blotter)
- Match.com Sued: Love Seekers Claim Site Full of Fake Profiles (FindLaw's Legally Weird)