Popular Dating Apps Let Known Sex Offenders Create Accounts
While institutional sexual assault lawsuits targeting the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America have prompted legislation increasing the amount of time victims have to sue their attackers, the next wave of sexual assault lawsuits could target online dating apps like Tinder that allow those convicted of sex crimes to set up online accounts. Already, there are those who have been murdered by people they met online.
While some dating apps do restrict sexual predators from using their apps, many of the most popular ones are not among them. The Match Group, which owns most of the popular online dating apps including Match, does not screen for those convicted of sexual offenses. Sites like Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish do not screen for sexual predators while Match.com does.
Now, there’s a question as to whether or not those who are victimized by predators on these sites can hold the site liable for any attack they endure.
Woman Sues Match.com After Brutal Attack
In 2011, Mary Kay Beckman was stabbed multiple times with a butcher knife after being matched to Mitchell Ridley. Ridley was sentenced to a minimum of 28 years for the attack and died recently in prison. He was also facing a murder charge in Arizona over the death of a former girlfriend. Beckman filed a lawsuit against Match.com alleging negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, deceptive trade, and failure to warn.
Beckman, a real estate agent from Nevada, joined the site about a month before her first in-person meeting with Ridley. They dated for ten days and then she broke it off. Afterward, Ridley began sending her threatening text messages. A few months later, Ridley showed up at her home and attacked her, leaving her for dead. Beckman survived the incident, but only by the skin of her teeth.
It was after another incident that Match.com along with eHarmony and other dating sites signed an accord to better protect their users by screening for sexual predators or those who have prior convictions for sex crimes. Beckman dropped her lawsuit against Match.com after the site agreed to perform basic screening for those convicted of sex offenses.
The Prospects of a Lawsuit Against a Dating App
It’s a tricky thing to sue a dating app for an assault perpetrated by a user on the site. Beckman ended up dropping her lawsuit after Match.com agreed to begin screening their users. However, the company released a statement saying that the lawsuit was “absurd” and that the only person responsible for the crime was the man who committed it. The fact that more sites haven’t followed suit is an indication that they believe they’re insulated from litigation. But that may not always be the case.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been sexually or physically assaulted on someone else’s property or due to someone else’s negligence, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers can hold the at-fault party responsible for facilitating the attack. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.