April 18, 2011— -- Just days after a California woman filed a lawsuit against a popular online dating site after she was sexually attacked on a date, Match.com officials announced Sunday it will start to screen users against a national sex offenders registry.
In a statement issued to the Associated Press, Match.com President Mandy Ginsberg said the website did not implement the screening process for years due to the "unreliability of the database" but after reviewing recent improvements, the company has decided to begin the checks with current and new members.
"We've been advised that a combination of improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward with this initiative, despite its continued imperfection," Ginsberg said in the statement.
The move comes after a Match.com attorney said in a news conference last week that setting up a screening system was not possible.
Match.com spokesman Matthew Traub said the site was already considering screening its users and the change "did not come in direct response to the lawsuit, but the timing of the decision was accelerated by the attention the suit brought," the AP reported.
It's unclear whether the new change was directly connected to the civil lawsuit filed last week.
Ginsberg warned users that despite the new screening, they should still be vigilant as the checks "remain highly flawed."
According to the site, Match.com members are told to check out safety tips on the site and that it is their responsibility for screening other members and that what happens on dates is not the responsibility of the company.
California Woman's Civil Lawsuit
Last week, the woman, publically identified only as Jane Doe, filed the civil lawsuit asking a court to force Match.com to install a sex offender screening system that checks a members' background when they register for the site.
The lawsuit had asked for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would prevent new members from signing up for Match.com until such a program is instituted.
"When somebody uses their credit card to pay, they [would] basically run the card through a sexual offender database," said Jane Doe's attorney, Mark Webb last week.
Jane Doe is described as an Ivy League graduate who works in film and television industry, according to Webb.
Webb said his client met a man on Match.com and "she had no reason to believe that he was a convicted sexual offender."
The lawsuit claims Jane Doe and the man went on a date that seemed to go well, but by the next date things turned violent.
The lawsuit said the man went to Jane Doe's house after they had dinner and he forced her to perform a sexual act.
Separate criminal rape charges are still pending in a Los Angeles court.
According to Webb, the suspect has a violent history that includes sex assault cases that should have been caught by Match.com before he was allowed to post a profile on the site.
Webb said since Match.com is a successful website, they should have the resources to install a system that could verify that a user is not a sexual predator.
"While incidents like this one between individuals who meet on Match.com are extremely rare, it doesn't make them any less horrifying," Match.com said in a previous statement.
Webb said his client is not asking for money in the current lawsuit but instead to trigger a change in the world of online dating.
"This horrific ordeal completely blindsided me because I had considered myself savvy about online dating safety," said Jane Doe in a statement read to reporters last week.