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U.S. Judge Tosses Suit Against SexSearch, Other Adult Companies

Case over risks associated with user-driven content had long list of industry defendants.
U.S. Judge Tosses Suit Against SexSearch, Other Adult Companies
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Aug 22, 2007 3:30 PM PDT    Text size: 
LOS ANGELES — A federal court Wednesday agreed with defending attorneys and dismissed claims against SexSearch and other adult companies in a case that underscored the inherent risks to social networking and dating sites that allow users to post their own content.

The case, filed in Toledo, Ohio, centered around an adult male who said he was tricked into believing that a minor he met on SexSearch was in fact over the age 18 because she posted information that stated such and that the online company represented to him that it verifies the age of all members who use their site.

But the court on Wednesday said it didn't buy the man's case.

“Plaintiff employed a double-barreled shotgun approach in this case but failed to hit a claim upon which relief may be granted,” U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary wrote in the 29-page ruling.

Lead counsel Gary Kaufman of Los Angeles-based The Kaufman Law Group told XBIZ he was pleased with Zouhary’s decision.

“The court simply applied the law to the facts and saw this case for what it was — an attempt to blame someone else for their own improper conduct,” Kaufman said. “SexSearch as well as all of the other named defendants did absolutely nothing wrong and have now been vindicated by this decision.”

The suit alleged that SexSearch, as well as its executives and partners, committed fraud, violated Ohio consumer laws and markets children to adults for sexual purposes, among other accusations.

More than a month after having consensual intercourse with the minor at her home, the John Doe plaintiff was arrested and charged with a variety of charges of unlawful conduct with a minor. The man, whose age has not been revealed, could face up to 15 years in prison, but his criminal trial has not yet commenced.

The 14-year-old minor, whose profile was active on SexSearch until it was removed by her parents, included her photo on the site, as well as listings that said she was looking for a “1 on 1 sexual encounter” and that her ideal match included her interest in a male “who can last for a long time.”

The suit’s long list of defendants included some well-known adult industry brand names in addition to SexSearch, including Playboy, Jenna Jameson, Club Jenna, Moniker Online Services, Manic Media and Stallion.com. Also listed as defendants are SexSearch executives Ed Kunkel, Damian Cross and Adam Small, as well as SexSearch hosting company ExperiencedInternet.com.

Plaintiff’s attorney Dean Boland did not return phone calls for comment by post time.

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