Dating website Match.com is taking proactive measures to reduce the exposure to known sex offenders as the online dating company’s president, Mandy Ginsberg stated in a news interview yesterday. The company is looking into incorporating a database search of sex offenders for current and future subscribers in the next 60 to 90 days. This policy change comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed a few days ago after one of its online members was allegedly sexually assaulted by another member after meeting on the popular dating site.
The civil suit suggests that the alleged sexual assault would have been prevented if the online dating giant would have conducted a background check to include the screening of sexual predators. The lawsuit is asking a court to force Match.com to install a sex offender screening system that checks members' backgrounds when they register for the site. According to the victim, the suspect has a past violent history that includes sexual assault cases that could have been caught by Match.com.
This unthinkable act now has Match.com on the defense and the firm is faced with negative brand exposure, a pending lawsuit, and high legal costs to defend the victim’s claim. This scenario is no different than an employer defending itself for negligence if this scenario would have played out at work. If an employer fails to carry-out its due diligence and doesn’t provide a level of due diligence or “duty of care” when hiring individuals that would not pose a threat or safety risk to other employees and individuals, they could find themselves in the same situation. Every employer is faced with this potential risk, if they do not conduct comprehensive background checks on potential applicants and employees. The stakes are even higher with firms that provide a working environment for employees and customers engaged with close and intimate contact, or firms that deal with children, the elderly or even the disabled.
According to the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children, as of December 2010 there are over 728,435 registered sex offenders in the United States and U.S. territories. This breaks down to 234 per 100,000 U.S. citizens. Although the Dru Sjordin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) provides public viewing of many sex offenders, it is up to each state and their particular state’s laws as to the level of sex offender that is listed for public viewing. Many states only provide public access to “Level III – High Risk” offenders that are determined to be of a high risk of re-offending and even less provide access to “Level II – Moderate Risk” offenders. The sobering statistic here is the more than 100,000 sex offenders fail to register and cannot be tracked by authorities. Many offenders either don’t register or provide false or incomplete information such as “homeless” so they can’t be tracked.
Conducting a national sex offender search is certainly a step in the right direction; however, only a comprehensive background check can provide the level of detail needed for employers to make a hiring decision based on detailed court information. A comprehensive criminal background check within all areas of where an individual has lived and worked can only provide the level of diligence needed to properly background check an individual.
EBI works with employers, volunteer organizations and non-profit groups to provide expert assistance in developing criminal background check programs that are comprehensive and don’t just rely on electronic data that is not complete. If you found this information useful, select the button listed below and access more industry news, resources and tips from EBI, an NAPBS Accredited screening firm and global leader in the background screening industry!