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Match.com Settles Suit By Agreeing to Screen Sex Offenders

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The match.com homepage as it looks today.
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Registered sex offenders won't be able to find a date on Match.com, thanks to a settlement with a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a convicted sex offender while she was using the site.The colossal dating service has agreed to conduct background checks to weed out sex offenders that try to use the site, despite previous concerns that such a policy would not be foolproof and may provide a false sense of security.

Screenwriter Carole Markin, who says she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on the site, told the Los Angeles Times that she was pleased with the settlement: "If I save one woman from getting attacked, then I'm happy."

Markin's attorney said he predicts the settlement may have a domino effect on other matchmaking services — and legal experts say he might be right.

Dating sites have had disclaimers up for years, but experts suggest that some other dating sites could be on the hook legally if they don't screen out sex offenders as well. That is especially true for sites like Match.com that promise to match up people based on compatibility.

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"What Match.com is saying is, 'Have we got a guy for you!' " said UC Berkeley law Professor Frank Zimring. "It's a prescriptive rather than facilitative dating service."

eHarmony used the settlement as an opportunity to brag that it's been keeping sex offenders off its site for years.

That leaves at least one major dating site unaccounted for:

Craigslist executives didn't respond to an emailed inquiry about their policy on screening out sex offenders. The company's website carries the disclaimer that "under no circumstances shall Craigslist be liable" for any damages sustained by users.