A New Jersey man charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child is suing the gay hookup app Grindr, claiming the app’s failure to verify the age of a 13-year-old boy he molested is not his fault.
According to reports, William Saponaro Jr. of Cape May, NJ, met with the teen and another adult on June 21, 2012 for the purpose of having sex. Saponaro claims that the other adult involved in the case had told him the teen was 18-years-old, and that he didn’t question the teen’s age because Grindr’s terms of service ban minors from using it.
Saponaro claims it wasn’t until a week after he had sex with the teen that he learned he was only 13. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Saponaro’s suit claims that Grindr is responsible for the encounter because the company acted “negligently” in its failure to verify the teen user’s age. He holds the app directly responsible for his arrest because he had “reasonably believed [the minor] was 18 years or older.”
Furthermore, Saponaro claims Grindr had caused him “emotional distress” in the process.
In a motion to dismiss the case, Grindr claims it has no responsibility to Saponaro because he does not even allege that he is a member of the service (he holds that his adult friend was the one who arranged the encounter).
Earlier this year, a similar case was brought to our attention when Mike Dozer, a gay porn performer, was arrested for allegedly meeting and having sex with an underage boy on Grindr. In his defense, Dozer also claimed the app’s lax age-policing also contributed to his arrest.