A Hollywood executive raped by a man she met on Match.com is suing the popular dating site, a press release which went out over PR Newswire this afternoon states.
Jane Doe, an Ivy League graduate, currently working in television and film, met Alan Paul Wurtzel, on Match.com in 2010. The two set up a date, after which, Mr. Wurtzel viciously sexually assaulted her. Basic screening would have revealed Mr. Wurztel’s prior history and prevented this attack. Felony charges against Mr. Wurtzel are currently pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court [Case # BA373188].
No much is known at this time, but all accounts point to the fact that the attacker, Alan Paul Wurtzel, has a history of sexual battery and seems to be skilled at paying his way out of trouble.
First and foremost, my heart goes out to those who go through this terrible experience. While online dating clearly needs to be made safer, nobody can agree on what safeguards are appropriate and feasible for both singles and dating sites.
A few things to consider before this gets all blown out of proportion. Thousands of singles have been attacked after meeting people on dating sites. Match.com is reported more often because there are a) more people on the site than other dating sites and people tend to focus on the fact that Match has more money to pay out than say a free site (I don’t believe Jane Doe is even looking for money from Match.)
True.com spent years and a lot of lobbyist money to get a few states to force dating sites to place warnings on the home page to alert singles to the fact that the site doesn’t perform background checks on all members. Its amazing how many singles think that dating sites do perform background checks.
Just the threat of Jane Doe’s lawyers filing a proposed injunction against Match to shut them down until they perform background checks on all member could be the straw the breaks the camel’s back, so to speak.
Believe me, Match/IAC, is all lawyered up. They have obviously planned for this well in advance and contingency plans are no doubt in place. I can’t believe at this time that such an injunction would be honored, but again, the exposure and damage it could do to the online dating industry could be catastrophic.
What makes this different is the Hollywood connection, the fact that the attacker has a history of similar behavior. I have just learned that ABC-TV will air an interview with Jane Doe today at 4:30pm Los Angeles time.
I have written at length about the differences between background checks and identity verification and the dating industry’s resistance to both. From a business standpoint its understandable. Background checks create consternation and confusion for singles. They seem to think that either we’re all checked or no one is.
The middle ground is where singles start to get upset, because to them it feels like a person has to get checked in order to be considered trustworthy. If you are checked, and I’m not, I am not happy with the fact that I have to shell out another $10-$30 to get verified (round numbers, the pricing for ID verification is much less than a full background check.)
If Match receives 20,000 new members a day, multiply that by $5 per check, and background checks become an instant revenue drain. Multiply that across a billion-dollar industry and one can see why dating sites are going to be watching this unfold very closely.
More on this breaking story as we talk to those involved in the case.