back to article SexSearch not responsible for underage hookup (again)

A US appeals court has once again ruled that websites aren't responsible for the stupidity of its users. And as a legal bonus, it has also verified that "your honor, her profile said she was 18" won't get a man off the hook. As spotted by Eric Goldman, the case of John Doe v. has rolled back into court, with …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's the same as a nightclub

    if you meet a girl in a nightclub that only allows 18+ year olds in, drinking beer that can only be served to 18+ year olds, smoking cigarettes that are only available to 18+ year olds, and the people who's professional career relies on them correctly verifying ages have agreed they are over 18 for all of this. You will still be arrested if you sleep with someone who's managed to slip through all of this by lying about their age.

    It's one of those nightmare scenarios, you either ignore anyone who looks under 30, or take a chance on it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wait a minute!

    So you finally meet this hottie from the website in person that only wants one thing from you. you are all pumped up and barely remember to bring protection.

    Just before it goes down you ask : " oh by the way could i see some ID"

    I think not.... or maybe it depends on how long it was for you.

  3. Jacob Lipman

    Thank you, sir

    "It's like navigating a slutty star ship."

    You just made my day.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always check ID

    The first thing I do whenever I meet anyone from the Internet for the first time, no matter the circumstances, is swap driver's licenses. This applies equally to people I've known for 15 years and to people I just met two days ago, whether we're meeting for sex, a convention, just to hang out, or whatever.

    It establishes an honesty baseline - something that concretely confirms information previously conveyed.

    The only exception to that rule is people at hacker cons - respect for anonymity is important there. But if you want me to buy you a drink, you're going to have to fork over some ID either to me or a bouncer.

  5. Chris C

    Idiot judge

    "The judge also noted that Doe had plenty of time to confirm the girl's age himself when they met in person."

    Then could the judge (or any of you reading this) kindly inform me exactly *HOW* Doe could confirm the girl's age? While I think he should have exercised much more caution and better judgment, the fact remains that it is literally impossible to confirm a person's age. It may be difficult to believe, but <gasp>, people lie. I know, I know, young women have never claimed to be older than they really are, just as older women have never claimed to be younger than they really are.

    Seriously, how can you confirm someone's age? Given the prevalence of fake IDs, it would seem that they're easy enough to get if you want one. Hell, you don't even need to have any ID. I didn't get my license until I was 18, so there was a time that year that I was legally an adult but had no way to prove it (using the often-used but illogical notion that a driver's license is proof of age).

    So how could Doe confirm her age? Was he supposed to do carbon dating? Or maybe he was supposed to cut her open and count the rings? Both of those are as logical, and yield the same level of proof, as any other method used.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah right


    For those reading at home (or maybe at work with a desk facing a wall) – you may want to check out the hilariously high tech-themed SexSearch front page. It's like navigating a slutty star ship.


    Yeah right - from my work computer. I think not.

    Paris - cause - well it is a Paris comment.

  7. neal
    Black Helicopters

    Bad Government.

    Sucks for this guy. This was a completely mutually consensual act, and there is no way that this could be construed as a predatory. She had a profile on SexSearch, its not like they met through my space or even a dating site. Now he is facing a 15-year prison term and lifetime classification as a sex offender. Personally, that does not seem right to me, and it is my strong opinion that the government should not be involved in cases like this. The morality of the act, well that can be debated. Oh, and if this was a violent or predatory act, the guy ought to get the book thrown at him.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is interesting

    I read in another article about this that the criminal case against Goldman was dismissed. I can't find any details but quick googling suggests that under Ohio law the offender would have to either know the other party was underage, or be "reckless" in that regard. Maybe "your honor, her profile said she was 18" is a defense after all.

  9. hikaricore


    Honestly the whole statutory rape thing has gotten a bit out of sorts over the last few decades.

    Individuals are individuals for a reason. It's our right as human beings to make our own choices and no one else should have any say in it. Obviously this girl went out of her way to show that she was ready to be sexually active. That was her choice. Regardless of any system of law there is no reason to punish anyone in this situation. I mean at best her parents should have grounded her until she was 18, but I don't believe that the so called law should have any say in the matter. Now don't get me wrong there are situations where force; whether it be physical or verbal where laws should be in place to protect people. However when two consenting human beings make the decision to have a sexual encounter that same system of law should protect them and their privacy.

  10. jake Silver badge


    What kind of sad git needs an online service to get a date?

    Serious question ... I've been a computer nerd since I was in my early teens (early 70s), and was quite the introvert until my early thirties, but I had no trouble dating in real life. I find the whole phenomenon quite peculiar ...

  11. James O'Brien


    Pics so we can confirm her "age" with our own eyes or it didnt happen.

    /yes I know tasteless attempt at sue me

  12. BioTube


    Juries have been known to blatantly disregard the law before and find somebody innocent when they're clearly guilty. It might be a statement on the law itself or one on the circumstances. Plus, the DA can always choose not to prosecute(few people would stop him from dropping the case; those that do are mostly looking for double jeopardy protection). If he can prove he didn't know(and had no reason to suspect) she was underage, he stands a good chance of getting off.

    As for all those going on about "statutory" rape, the line has to be drawn somewhere. Since most states have exceptions for close ages, the lesson is avoid the "I'm 18" crowd if you're over 21.

  13. Mister_C

    shame she didn't charge

    then he might have been able to sue her for misrepresenting herself.

    The solution is obvious - ban everyone old enough to be a paedo. Don't praise me for the idea, I've adapted Faceparty's method.

    Happy New Year y'awl

  14. Anonymous Coward

    The downside to dating online

    met a girl online and we traded pictures and she looked real hot.

    She liked i was 27 at the time and she was 32.

    we met.

    in real life she was really 51 years old.

    i felt so owned.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Always check ID

    " The first thing I do whenever I meet anyone from the Internet for the first time, no matter the circumstances, is swap driver's licenses. "

    Arghhh! That's a terrible idea! You could be giving your ID to a scammer for him to abuse. And if you are dealing with a fraudster, he won't be using his real ID. There's too much ID fraud nowadays for it to be safe for anyone to be so casual with ID documents.

    Anonymous scambaiter.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Normally I'd post under my name but....

    I had a near miss myself many years ago.

    A "woman" in a nightclub got very friendly, she even knew my name, but would not tell me how or where she knew me from; about an hour later, when this "woman" (6ft, strawberry blonde, big tits and stunning blue dress), and I were involved in some heavy petting, my friend started jabbing me in the ribs; he had finally realised where and when we had met her before.

    We had carried out a First Aid demonstration at the school where she was a pupil.


    BTW, it was the night clubs "Over 25's" night

  17. mark l Silver badge

    reasonable doubt

    The law in the UK states that it is only a criminal offence if you did not reasonably believe the person was over 16. So if the person was on a 18+ dating website or in a nightclub that only allows over 18 then you wouldnt doubt that the person was under 18 and that would be a defense in law.

  18. Wade Burchette


    Where were this girl's parents! They are the ones who should be in jail. I know this may be a hard concept for parents, but your children are more important than your big house and big car. If this is a single-parent family, then why is the girl's internet activity not monitored! At each level, the blame goes back to clueless mom and dad. The frowny-face is for you, stupid parents.

  19. Justin Case


    "The first thing I do whenever I meet anyone from the Internet for the first time, no matter the circumstances, is swap driver's licenses." From the Internet? Where's that?

    Re "wall-facing desk @ work" from original article. Shurely shome mishtake - the back of the desk needs to have the wall behind it. Otherwise some sneaky little beggar could be looking at your screen. Shurely? Hic.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Chris C, Re: Idiot Judge

    Even if it turned out later on to be fake, had he checked, that'd be a point in his favor. Hard to say whether that'd be enough to exonerate him.

    The only ID most 14 year olds here have would be their (middle) school ID, which would be a dead give away, right?

    I can't see a 14 year old who's determined to have sex being stupid enough to show their middle school ID as proof that they're 18. Then again, if they're stupid enough to want to have sex with someone they met though a web site, then maybe they are that stupid after all.

    She wanted someone who could last? Does that mean she'd already worked her way through all the 14 year old boysluts in her school?

    Paris, because she looks and acts like she's about 14.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: It's like navigating a slutty star ship.

    I'm not sure what navigating a star ship would be like, or even a slutty one, or even one full of slutty girls and boys; but I wouldn't consider that web opening page to be either high tech or like navigating a star ship.

    What was the author really thinking about?

  22. Burch

    Grass on the wicket...

    Happy new year!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @Yeah right

    You're at work on new year's day? Man, that sucks. You have my condolences.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which way's your desk facing?


    "For those (..... at work with a desk facing a wall) – you may want to check out the hilariously high tech-themed SexSearch front page."

    I don't know about your office layout Mr Modine, but when my desk faces a wall, my monitor faces into the room, where everyone else present can see what's on the screen.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @AC Concerning desks

    That depends on whether you like to take your desk from in front or behind. I prefer Cowgirl so the desk and monitor face the same way.

  26. E_Nigma

    There Are a Few Things to Consider Here

    First of all, as someone said, could he really have honestly believed that a 14 year old is not underage? I think that such cases are extremely rare. Also, how old is he? If he's up to around 20, he probably could have believed she was at least 16. That would still make her underage, but that would mean that he's had a healthy idea on his mind and my personal sense of right and wrong says that he should get away with a dozen Hail Maries, but if he's 30 or something like that, then he's crossed a line by scre*ing a 14 year old, even if she actively asked for it.

    As for the website, if they used a slightly different language it would be ok, but since they explicitly state that "all persons within this site are 18+", then profile data, including age, may be false, but they guarantee that no member is under 18, so they should be in this mess too in my oppinion.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A lot of people react that way. Yes is might have been a little willful suspension of disbelief in his part, but the bottom line that is we haven't seen her so we can't judge. In general I wouldn't be terribly surprised to meet a 14-year-old who could pass for 18, especially with plenty of makeup. It might be It might be unusual, be not "extremely rare". Believe it or not younger girls than that if pulled the same stunt successfully. And incidentally if she had been 16 it would have been legal in Ohio.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in school (12 years ago when i was 14)

    I knew a girl in my year she was 5'11" long blonde hair and dd ( made no bones about telling people and showing off her body on school trips and p.e.) in short she was everything a 14 boy could dream of and had all the boys attention but she was dating an 18 year old she'd met in a bar she'd been in.

    4 years later now 18 i was on holiday . and having a holiday romance with a girl about 5'6" big boobs nice legs and getting served in the 18+ bar with me and my friend after few days of spend nights heavy petting but no more she asked me if we could spend the night alone some where quiet where we could have to fun. well over lunch that day the girls dad pointed out with use of her passport she was only 15 and he had been round to have quiet word with me as he knew she wouldn't listen. needless to say her planned activity on the "walk" didn't happen (damn me and my morals). strangely the next day her dad had another word for not deflowering his child which was nice.

    Point being every now and again these girls do turn up and with out checking id or a parental nudge it can be really hard to tell. that being said


    ANon to protect the innocent and not so innocent

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Slutty starship

    Brilliant - having a browse now and it's rather amusing. I have just started a search for a lesbian couple, me being a male gay couple (poetic license, ok?) and now specifying the country they must live in. Iraq is one of them - I await the results eagerly but not holding out much hope...

  30. Anonymous Coward


    ID cards! :-D

  31. E_Nigma

    @AC @Me

    That's why I said that, depending on the circumstances, I may let him go with a "stern warning" :D, especially since he in no way manipulated her or anything like that, she was on SexSearch on her own.

    There's a girl in my dance class that I know goes to high school and looks no more than 16 despite being quite tall. Last time I saw her, she wore an elegant long dress and just a touch of makeup and, as our teacher complimented her, it was quite a transformation, so I know what you mean. Still, I live literally next to an elementary school so I see a bunch of 14 and 15 year olds on regular basis and I can proudly say that few of them would ever tempt me even though I occasionally look at one of them and think "This girl will be such a stunner in a few years!"

  32. Anonymous Coward

    must have been a paedo

    That's the only reason for picking someone under 40. Make him have it with Jacqui next time and that will cure him for good.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @@ Always check ID

    I don't know about you, but my driver's license contains such sensitive details as... My name. The color of my eyes. How much I weighed and how tall I was when I was 15 and got my learner's license issued (I just click OK when the thing prompts me to update the values), the types of vehicles I'm qualified to drive, and a 16-digit hexadecimal number that you could use to find out about my driving record!

    Seriously, driver's licenses, at least in the US, are the least secure document we have. They're almost NEVER used for for-serious identification purposes (at least on their own), they don't contain any really identifying data, and we hand them over every day to all manner of store clerk, movie ticket booth operator, airport security operative, police officer, doorman, bouncer, hotel clerk, etc.

  34. Danny Silver badge

    Date Stamp them

    Tattoo the date of birth of every child then have it removed by laser when they reach the legal age of consent. Not that I'm every likely to screw anyone that young again even by accident but I am crap at telling ages and could serve them alcohol or let them vote or something.

  35. Chris C

    @AC re:@@ Always check ID

    "Seriously, driver's licenses, at least in the US, are the least secure document we have... they don't contain any really identifying data..."

    Perhaps things are different in your state. In Massachusetts, your driver's license includes your name, address, license number, date of birth, vehicle class, restrictions (such as corrective lenses), height, sex, license expiration date, and your signature.

    It should be noted that until not too long ago, the default license number was your social security number. So for many people, your license includes your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and signature. In short, everything an ID thief would need. But should we really expect more when the IRS explicitly tells you to write your social security number on your 1040 estimated withholding income tax payments?

  36. Rob
    Paris Hilton

    Damn so close

    I'm at the back of the office and face away from the rest of them, but unfortunately the window I back on to looks on to the church, so probably best I don't look at it until I get home, then me and the missus can have a laugh at it.

    @jake - Not really a dating service more a screwing service (in more ways than one it seems).

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