Skip to main content

Woman describes alleged incident that led to suit against Match.com

Click to play
Woman sues site after alleged assault
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A lawsuit was filed last week against online dating service Match.com
  • Match.com said it will check membership against National Sex Offender Registry
  • The website's president cautions against "false sense of security" by its members
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- A woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by a convicted offender she met on the dating website Match.com went public Tuesday with a series of media appearances, saying, "I want to prevent something like this happening to another woman."

Carole Markin, a Harvard College graduate and film and TV producer, was previously called "Jane Doe" in a class-action lawsuit filed April 13 in Los Angeles County, California, Superior Court.

Sunday, Match.com said it would begin cross-referencing members against the National Sex Offender Registry.

Markin claims she met a man named Alan Wurtzel, who according to the lawsuit has a record of "six separate convictions for sexual battery" in Los Angeles County alone.

She told HLN that Wurtzel forced her to perform sexual acts on him, at her residence, while they were on their second date.

Markin said afterward, "I looked up his name (on the computer) and I saw that he had a bad past."

An attorney for Wurtzel, in a statement sent to HLN, said her client and Markin engaged in consensual, romantic contact together and then, "Eight days later she inexplicably called police."

Attorney Sharon Morris of Sherman Oaks, California, told CNN that Wurtzel has pleaded not guilty to one felony count of oral copulation and one felony count of sexual battery in the Markin case.

The case is set for trial April 26, and Wurtzel will argue "nothing occurred that was not consensual," Morris said.

Morris said she did not know the number of previous misdemeanor convictions her client has, but said they involved sexual misconduct charges and no-contest pleas.

Mandy Ginsberg, president of Match.com, U.S., said in a statement Sunday night that "improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward" with an initiative it had previously discounted because of the background checks' "historical unreliability."

Because it has failed "to undertake a basic screening process (emphasis provided) that disqualifies from membership anyone who has a documented history of sexual assault," the lawsuit says, "Match and sexual predators benefit, while female members ... are endangered."

The class action names as plaintiffs, along with "Jane Doe," all of Match.com's paying female members from August 2010 to the present.

The statement from Match.com's president cautioned that despite the background checks, the website could not guarantee "the actions of all its members."

"We want to stress that while these checks may help in certain instances, they remain highly flawed, and it is critical that this effort does not provide a false sense of security to our members," Ginsberg's statement said.

"Match.com is a fantastic service, having changed the lives of millions of people through the relationships and marriages it has given rise to, but people have to exercise common sense and prudence with people they have just met, whether through an online dating service or any other means," Ginsberg said.

In the terms of use in its online membership agreement, the website says its members are "solely responsible" for their interactions with people they meet on the site, and that the website will not be held liable for "any damages whatsoever" arising from meetings. As of Tuesday afternoon, that section still said Match.com "does not in any way screen its members, nor does Match.com inquire into the backgrounds of its members or attempt to verify the statements of its members."

Markin said she will wait to see whether Match.com follows up on its pledge.

"I think Match bears some responsibility and I wanted to have them try to improve safety for all members," she told HLN.

Rival dating site eHarmony says it already cross-checks its users with public sex offender lists, and that this policy "has allowed us to keep many known registered sex offenders off of our service."

The company, however, says these screenings may not be enough on their own. It urges users to "exercise good judgment."

"Additionally, we use industry-leading technology and have staff members dedicated to monitoring the quality and integrity of the membership pool. Our goal is to prevent people who seem intent on harming others from joining the service," eHarmony said in a statement e-mailed to CNN.

"As a matter of course, eHarmony does not conduct full criminal background checks," the statement said. "Registries can be incomplete or inaccurate, assaults and other crimes often go unreported, and perpetrators of crimes are not always convicted. Relying solely on screening can provide a false sense of security."

CNN's John D. Sutter and Phil Gast contributed to this report.

[TECH: NEWSPULSE]

Most popular Tech stories right now