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Man pleads to sexual battery over Match.com date

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles man pleaded no contest on Wednesday to sexually battering a woman he met on Match.com in a case that led his date to push for better screening methods by the matchmaking site.

Alan Paul Wurtzel, 67, faces a year in jail under the terms of his agreement to plead no contest to the felony charge of sexual battery by restraint, prosecutors said. A no contest plea is equivalent to a guilty plea in California.

Wurtzel met the victim on Match.com last year and, on their second date, drove her home and followed her inside where he sexually assaulted her while holding her down, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

"He's going to jail and he's going to be a sexual offender for life," Carole Markin, a Hollywood television producer and author who identified herself as the victim in the case, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Markin in April sued IAC/InterActive Corp-owned Match.com and called on the company to change its screening policies. Days after the lawsuit was filed, Match.com said it would begin checking users of the site against the national sex offender registry.

"I thought people, they lie about their age or they lie about their weight, but you don't foresee them to lie about being a sex offender," Markin said.

A representative for Match.com could not be reached for comment.

Wurtzel had previously been registered as a sex offender over a pair of 2004 misdemeanor sexual battery incidents, said Spencer Hart, a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles.

But because those incidents involved misdemeanor charges, the registry with information about Wurtzel was not open to public viewing and instead was restricted to law enforcement, Hart said.

As part of Wurtzel's plea agreement, a charge of forcible oral copulation against him will be dismissed when he is sentenced on September 19, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)

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