SexSearch Appeal Set for Oral Argument

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — An attorney for SexSearch said Friday he is confident that a federal appeals court will affirm a lower court’s dismissal of a man’s suit against the social networking company.

SexSearch and numerous other adult companies found themselves on the defense last year after the man, identified only as John Doe, filed suit, alleging that company executives and business partners committed fraud and violated Ohio consumer laws, after he had intercourse with a minor he met online.

“This is the final step in putting an end to this shakedown and vindicating not only SexSearch’s position, but Congress’s as well,” said Gary Kaufman of Los Angeles-based The Kaufman Law Group, which represents SexSearch in the case. “Only one person in the world had the responsibility to verify that girl’s age and it was John Doe. I expect the 6th Circuit to agree.”

The case was dismissed last year by U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary, who said that Doe “employed a double-barreled shotgun approach … but failed to hit a claim upon which relief may be granted.”

Doe, however, appealed the case to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which this week scheduled oral arguments in Doe vs. SexSearch for Oct. 24 in Cincinnati.

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 of 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.

More than a month after having consensual intercourse with the minor at her home, Doe was arrested and charged with a variety of charges of unlawful conduct with a minor.

The man, whose age has not been revealed, faced up to 15 years in prison, but his criminal trial was dismissed.

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.”

SexSearch claims that it is immune through the Communications Decency Act because it acts as an Internet service provider and that Doe’s state claims all failed in the lower court decision at U.S. District Court.

“SexSearch had no duty to warn John Doe of the obvious danger of anonymous posting of false content on the Internet,” an earlier brief to the 6th Circuit said. “The [federal court] was correct in dismissing John Doe’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.”

The suit’s long list of defendants includes 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 XBIZ calls for comment by post time.

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