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Match.com to screen users for sex offenders

April 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dating website Match.com said it will begin screening its existing and new users against the national sex offender database after a woman filed a lawsuit against the company saying she had been raped by someone she met through the site.

Mandy Ginsberg, president of Match.com, said in a statement that the company had considered doing so for years, but "their historical unreliability has always led us to conclude against it."

Ginsberg said that a combination of improved technology and an improved database makes the screenings more accurate.

Match.com said it expects to be able to implement the changes in 60 to 90 days.

Last week, a Southern California woman filed the lawsuit saying she was sexually assaulted while on a second date with a man she met on the site.

"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."

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.

Even with the new screening procedures, some offenders may be able to slip by undetected.

"It's imperfect. There's no guarantee," said Brian Julianel, who works for Datefaxx.com, a site providing background checks on potential dates met online."It's a bit ambiguous in terms of what this national registry is and how they are going to be compiling this database."

Some experts said it's a positive first step for the world's most popular dating site.

"Now that match has taken this step, I'm sure other sites will follow in its footsteps," said Julie Spira, author of the book "The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online."

Bridget Baker, who met her husband online, says the ultimate responsibility in finding mr. Right is your own.

"It's really getting to know somebody beyond Match.com, meeting them with friends around, other people around before you go for it," she said.