In a recent interview, leading criminal defense attorney Edward La Rue, founding attorney at the Law Offices of La Rue & La Rue in Cleveland, OH, warned young men about the risks of sex crime charges when using Tinder and other online dating apps. —
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When asked for a comment, La Rue said, “With the abundance of dating apps popping up on the online dating scene such as Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Skout, Whisper, and MeetMe, there has been an increase in young men being labeled as sex offenders. Unfortunately, this leads to severe and far-reaching implications.”
According to La Rue, this uptick in sex crime charges and allegations related to dating apps is mainly due to so-called victims on dating apps lying about their age.
"It's easy to get tricked into believing someone is how old they claim to be online, which can easily lead to statutory rape allegations. And those who are at the most risk are younger men in their late teens or early 20s,” La Rue said.
La Rue continued by saying, “Most online dating apps on the market don’t have an age verification step while setting up a profile, which makes it very difficult to confirm someone’s age. Someone who claims to be 18 years old could easily be 14, but it can often be hard to tell the difference while chatting online.”
In the interview, La Rue provided an example of a 19-year-old man who was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct after sleeping with a 14-year-old who claimed to be 17.
"In this particular case, the young man now must register as a sex offender for 25 years, which will affect nearly every aspect of his life – where he can live as well as where he can find employment,” he said.
Unfortunately, the example is not an isolated incident, and other young men have had to fight felony charges. According to La Rue, the best thing that young men can do while online dating is to ask for some proof of the person’s age, such as ID.
When asked to elaborate, he said, “Trying to prove someone’s age by asking for ID might seem unromantic, particularly on a first date. However, it beats facing a sex crime charge or being forced to register as a sex offender. Furthermore, simply don’t go through with the date if you think that your date is lying about their age. It’s simply not worth it.”
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