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Alleged Match.com victim sues to protect users

April 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A woman who claims she was raped by a man she met on Match.com is suing the dating website to increase screening for potential sexual predators.

According to the woman, he sounded like the perfect match, a sophisticated man in his mid 50s from a notable Hollywood family.

"He sent me an email and said he was into golf and tennis and he had a house in the Palisades over Malibu and he liked art and culture, travel and food," she told Eyewitness News. "His grandfather had been a founder of a major studio and his father worked at that same studio for 40 years."

The woman, a Southern California entertainment industry executive who wants to be identified only as Jane Doe, said they met at a restaurant in West Hollywood for a cup of coffee on their first date. She said he felt like somebody she could trust.

"I think I said we should go out again and he said that would be great," she said. "He said he would like to call me this week and set something up."

On the second date, she says he took her home and followed her into her apartment.

"He went straight into the bathroom when he came in my place and I sat down on the couch and waited for him," she said. "Then he came out of the bathroom and jumped me and forced me to have oral sex and then he left."

The woman said she later found out on the Internet that the man, Alan Paul Wurtzel, has a history of sexual battery.

"Their responsibility should include some basic screening," said the woman's attorney, Mark Webb. "When there are sexual offenders on their site that are using it for prey."

The attorney for Match.com, Richard Platt, was not allowed into a news conference held by the woman's attorney Thursday. He was escorted out of the hotel by security.

Outside the conference, Platt said the company clearly states on its website it does not do background checks.

"There is no liability for Match.com," Platt said. "There is a provision on the website saying that they are not liable for this. It lets people known that they are not providing this service and people use it at their own risk."

"We challenge it," Webb. "We think that for them to write a clause that says we take no responsibility is not consistent with corporate responsibility in this country today."

Webb is asking for an injunction to stop match.com from signing up any new members until the company starts screening for sexual predators. The company's attorney says that would be very difficult.

"You'd have to ask for people's Social Security numbers, which they don't want to do, and of course you'd have to pass on the cost to the consumer of doing this," Platt said.

Wurtzel's attorney, Sharon Morris, said the allegations against him in this case are not true.

"What actually went on (was) a consensual sexual encounter between two consenting adults," she said.

Wurtzel is now facing felony counts of sexual battery.

Doe says she wants to change the website's procedures to protect others.