A recent sex attack occurring on a first date has renewed calls for online daters to be vigilant when meeting for the first time.
Earlier this week a 34 year old St Kilda woman travelled to Morwell to meet a male she had been communicating with on an online dating site. The pair watched a movie before heading to a nearby caravan park together where the sexual assault allegedly took place.
Victorian Police later released CCTV footage of the man described as Caucasian, balding, aged in his early 30’s and driving a white ute.
This follows a growing number of physical and sexual assault cases reported to Police after meeting an online Date for the first time. Previous cases include:
- A male in his mid-30’s was charged with rape after a first date went horribly wrong. The female victim aged in her 40’s alleged after first meeting him online, they arranged to meet at a South Geelong cafe which was cancelled. He instead picked her up in his vehicle and took her to a football oval where the assault allegedly took place.
- A male in his early 50’s was charged with indecent assault after meeting a local woman online and arranged to meet in person. On their first date he started taking photos of her face and over time, began to take photographs of other areas of body and allegedly grabbed and groped her against her well.
- Darren Saltmarsh, 37, was sentenced to nine and a half years for kidnapping and attempted murder. In September 2011 he tricked his online date, a foreign student, into travelling with him to his house where he attempted to extort money from her and her family. When these attempts failed, he dug a grave in his backyard and made her kneel inside it with her hands bound. By this time Police had him under surveillance and she was rescued unharmed.
Darran Porch, whose extensive convictions for assaulting women go back to 1997, was exposed as being active on popular dating site RSVP despite being on bail.
Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Miller, from the sex offences unit agreed the number of similar cases was rising, stating “I’ve no doubt on some of these websites people have found their lost love and are happy, but unfortunately some people in this area have had really bad experiences and there’s been some nasty sexual assaults reported,” he said.
Following these latest cases, Julia Robson, a private investigator who advocates for safer online dating states women should remain vigiliant when arranging to meet their online date for the first time. Her recommendations include:
- Prior to meeting, conduct some initial research into your Date and consider a CupidScreen to verify your Date’s honesty
- Always meet in a public place
- Keep drinking alcohol to a minimum
- Arrange your own transport there and back
- Stick to one location or avoid travelling in the same vehicle to the next destination
- Don’t be sexually intimate on the first date (‘The best things in life are worth waiting for”)
- Let a friend know about your date and when you intend to be home
- Consider investing in a safety app for your phone to automatically alert loved ones if you feel unsafe on your Date
- If your Date tries to change the meeting location at last minute, err on the side of caution and either cancel or postpone the Date.
Online Investigations, a private investigation company in Melbourne warn online daters that the majority of dating sites do not conduct background checks on their users. By accepting their terms and conditions when joining, users are also removing the sites from any liability for any damages, including injury or emotional distress.