Carole Markin has revealed herself as the woman who sued Match.com, ultimately forcing them to screen new members against the national sex offender registry. Her decision to go public is a brave one — but could her crusade be a mistake?
On Good Morning America, Markin said she decided to reveal her identity — she was previously referred to only as Jane Doe — because "I'm tired of hiding behind masks and glasses. I want to come forward and speak for the other Jane Does and Joe Blows who have been abused by sexual predators and give them courage to do something for themselves." And her campaign has become quite high-profile — a press release issued on her behalf by PR firm Media Giants says she's been "hailed widely as the 'Erin Brockovich of Online Dating.'" In speaking publicly about her assault by a sex offender she met on Match, Markin sends a powerful message that being the victim of such a crime isn't shameful, and that survivors don't have to keep silent. She also provides an important warning to anyone dating online or off. Her advice: "try to get as much information you can, without being too neurotic." Hopefully her words will help daters protect themselves, and also remind law enforcement of the need to gauge more accurately whether criminals will reoffend before releasing them.
But the result of her lawsuit — Match's decision to screen all new members for previous sex offenses — raises some questions. I previously opined that screening for sex offenders would be "good for Match's bottom line" — and that may well have influenced their decision. Writes Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory, "you [...] can't overstate the P.R. liability of being in any way associated with sex offenders." Clark-Flory also questions the wisdom of Match's move: