In a 2012 agreement on best industry practices between the attorney general’s office and the dating site, among others, the company again agreed to “identify sexual predators” and examine sex offender registries.
It pledged to go further and respond to users’ rape complaints with an additional safety tool: “a rapid abuse reporting system.”Today, Match Group checks the information of its paid subscribers on Match against state sex offender lists.
Even Pennsylvania registered sex offender Seth Mull, whose 17-year history of sex crimes convictions began as a teen, used Match Group’s dating sites; in 2017, Plenty of Fish didn’t flag his eight-year registry status before matching him with a woman who later accused him of rape.
A spokesperson said, “There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.” Susan Deveau saw Mark Papamechail’s online dating profile on Plenty of Fish in late 2016.It puts responsibility for policing its users on users themselves.Customers who sign its service agreement promise they haven’t committed “a felony or indictable offense (or crime of similar severity), a sex crime, or any crime involving violence,” and aren’t “required to register as a sex offender with any state, federal or local sex offender registry.” Plenty of Fish doesn’t attempt to verify whether its users tell the truth, according to the company. They chatted online and eventually arranged a date. But months after their Plenty of Fish match, Deveau became the second woman to report to police that Papamechail raped her after they had met through a dating app.His dating app profile said he wanted “to find someone to marry.”Deveau had used dating websites for years, but she told her adult daughter the men she met were “dorky.” She joked about how she could get “catfished” if a date looked nothing like his picture. The two were — in the popular dating platform’s jargon — “matched.”A background check would have revealed that Papamechail was a three-time convicted rapist.It would have shown that Massachusetts designated him a dangerous registered sex offender.Most victims, almost all women, met their male attackers through Tinder, Ok Cupid, Plenty of Fish, or Match. In 10% of the incidents, dating platforms matched their users with someone who had been accused or convicted of sexual assault at least once, the analysis found.Only a fraction of these cases involved a registered sex offender.Scrolling through his pictures, she saw a 54-year-old man, balding and broad, dressed in a T-shirt.Papamechail lived near her home in a suburb of Boston and, like Deveau, was divorced.Within months, Match’s lawyers told the judge that “a screening process has been initiated,” records show.After the settlement, the company’s attorneys declared the site was “checking subscribers against state and national sex offender registries.” The next year, Match made similar assurances to then–California Attorney General Kamala Harris.