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Man Sues Grindr For “Negligently” Hooking Him Up With 13-Year-Old Boy

6ae23d7e781af1506f913d027ba34ac7A 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.

On:           Aug 29, 2014
Tagged: , ,
    • tazz602

      OMG – really??!! You cannot tell the difference between a 13yo and an 18yo??

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jwrappaport

      Objection, your honor. My client was only “looking” for friends and to network.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99

      Yeah, it’s not your fault. I know how hard it is to keep your hands off of children. They’re just so damn sexy. I blame the kid for tempting him. Probably wore some tight sexy underoos or something;)

      Obviously the guy likes em really young. If he had just turned around upon seeing the kid he might’ve scored some points but he didn’t. Call it a hazard to your kind of play.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • QJ201

      Here’s a hint, no sexy times with anyone under 21.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Milk

      I guess the Elmo underwear is not enough of a clue.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dxley

      Little piece of shit isn’t innocent in all this. It should be safe to make the assumption that anyone on Grindr is over the age of 18, and most kids don’t even look their age; most look older.

      Just let the guy go and keep an eye on your damned loose child!

      Aug 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99

      @Dxley: As an adult you’re held to a higher standard then the kid. If you can’t tell the difference between a 13 yo and an adult then you’re just an idiot who should never be allowed around children.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SportGuy

      This guy is a moron, first of all its pretty easy to tell a 13 year old kid, even if the kid was 18, unless he was also 18, he should not have been talking to him. He could have avoided all this by not attempting to hookup with someone he thought was 18, which is still a kid and totally inappropriate, unless this guy is also 18. If people like him continue to go after kids then they will continue getting into situations like this and I do not fell sorry for them.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 1:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Merv

      I put this in the category of possible, but very unlikely. I’m sure there are some 13 year olds that look 18, but they’re very very rare. That doesn’t even take into account mannerisms and maturity level. He’s either lying to himself or lying to the world.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kgrover

      Would your opinions have been diferent if the kid was 17? 16?

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sansacro

      @SportGuy: 13 is a “kid”; 18 is not. At 18, I was holding down a job, living on my own, and paying my way for everything.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • randeman

      Well, I am not going to defend this guy, but I knew one 13 year old kid many, many years ago who could have EASILY passed for 18. I wasn’t much older than he was at the time, but I was FLOORED when he told me he was only 13. Would have made an incredibly hot 18 year old.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Quincy

      How stupid is this man? Anyone with common sense would look at a 13 y/o and know he is under age? What was he doing? Wearing a disguise to make himself look older? Sounds though, like the other man knew and this could have been a set-up or entrapment.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ron Jackson

      So was this a sting operation? Who was the adult with the 13 year old? Sounds like there is more to this story.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Curtispsf

      The “offender” should have known something was wrong when the kid said he had given the slip to his babysitter but had to be back before his parents got home.

      Something like this happened to me when I was in my 20s. A guy who lived up north and who was not out to his family told me he was 18 and asked if he could spend the night. When I answered the door, I saw a young looking guy and asked for a driver’s license. Turns out he had just turned 16 a few days earlier.

      I told him he was welcome to stay, but had to sleep on the couch; there was no way we would be having sex or even sleeping in the same bed together. The next day, despite his protests, I brought him to a gay youth organization so he could meet gay people his own age.

      When he asked why we couldn’t sleep together, my response was “because I’m an adult and you’re not”. As older gay men, we have an obligation to mentor and help those who are younger and coming to terms with their sexuality, not just think with our dicks. Sure there’s no magic line of maturity between 17 and 18 years old; when I was 14 I would have had sex with just anybody who was halfway decent but it’s up to the adult to draw a line that a minor might not be capable of drawing.

      So you thought he was 18 because he said so? Really???

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jaleoman

      Seems like the man is a child molester. I am sure
      It’s not the first it has happened to him. He obviously
      Like them very very young.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • onthemark

      So I guess it’s true – everybody on Grindr lies about their age?

      Aug 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rafael perez


      Well, age of consent in NJ is 16, so yes there would be a difference…

      Aug 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gjg64

      Reminds me of my favorite Onion headline….”Pope Forgives Molested Children”

      Aug 29, 2014 at 3:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Maude

      So no bells rang when you saw he didn’t have any crouch, or underarm hair?

      You thought he was a barbie doll maybe?

      Wait, I know…he told you he used a whole bottle of Nair before he left his house.

      Well, that’s okay then.

      Carry on.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Professor Fate

      Yeah, that’ll work.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • money718

      This guy has obviously been with kids before. Sicko.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Maude


      That has got to be a fake. Somebody’s been punked.
      Nobody can be so stupid as to think that anybody would believe this is true.
      If it is true……the church has taken its final walk in the sun.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 4:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CCTR

      Who is the “other adult” that arranged the encounter? What was their motive in all this? Pimping out this 13 year old?

      I’m sure some of you all were willfully sexually active with adult men in your teens and practiced the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.

      Grindr should indeed have a better system to verify age of its members. Age is not always obvious especially when one is all horned up and ready to go. I’m just saying

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DarkZephyr

      @Maude: Oh Maude. “The Onion” is a spoof news site.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Merv

      @Maude: It’s very unlikely the kid would have been trolling Grindr if he had no pubic hair. Pubic hair and horniness tend to arrive simultaneously.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • exkspo

      I am quite surprised at the number of people who feel that you should have no problem whatsoever in telling the difference between a 13 and 18 year old. Perhaps they have not noticed the facial hair that even middle school boys sport these days. I would venture a bet that they would in reality fail a test in distinguishing those ages. As for some other comments on age difference, what do you think is the reason, then, for legal age of consent laws?

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive

      @exkspo, excactly. Also, didn’t Queerty just post an article about daddies and twinks where some of the twinks looked about 12?

      Some 13 year olds are precocious, look older, have fake IDs, and lie their way into sex with older guys. It is hard to say with a straight face that these 13-year olds are harmed in the process. One wonders who is really the victim here. (Hint: whose life is getting destroyed in the process?)

      In any case, these cutoffs are completely arbitrary. In some European jurisdictions 13 is legal.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Saint Law

      @Dxley: Common knowledge round these parts you’re a creep an all – but actually defending a paedo – srsly?

      Aug 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Saint Law

      Actually having read the thread seems there’s quite a paedo-party going on.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SportGuy

      @Saint Law:

      I noticed that also, seems it is a trend with a lot of the articles on here that feature kids, very creepy.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • startenout

      While it cannot be justified that it happened, I know when I was a sophomore in high school, one of my friends (a girl) who was still in 8th grade was hooking up with a 25 year old and he absolutely did not know her age. She looked and acted older than some of the high school seniors.

      Teaching middle school, there have been sixth grade boys taller than me (I’m 6’2″) with facial hair and girl pushing Double D’s.

      It’s up to each of us to verify information about our sexual partners like HIV status and age (basics!), because those young’uns can be deceiving and you cannot judge a book by the cover.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99

      @startenout: “Teaching middle school, there have been sixth grade boys taller than me (I’m 6’2?) with facial hair and girl pushing Double D’s.”

      That would make them around 11 years old. I highly doubt that.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • startenout

      @Stache99: You can doubt whatever you like, it doesn’t make it less true.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sangsue

      So it’s Grinder’s fault that the man couldn’t keep it in his pants long enough to find out how old the boy really was? He’s the adult. Period.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chris

      That another adult set up the sexual encounter sets off all sorts of alarms in my mind. I must wonder if this is part of a larger operation that sells children for sex. Underage runaway girls are often sold into the sex trade; I wonder if this is also happening for underage runaway (often, gay) boys.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justme1999

      Not that I am taking up for this man. But when I was 13, I was 6’1″ tall, 220 lbs, could bench press double my weight, and had a very deep voice already. I was often confused for my mom’s husband/boyfriend when we went shopping or to restaurants.

      But as a general rule, if I meet you on a website or app, and you look under 21, I have no problems with asking for ID before I let you in my house. Plus I always ask directly in the chat log how old someone is, when they last got tested, and their hiv/std status so I have a record.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SilverRayne

      Not in his defense, because he really should have asked the teen for an ID to prove his age instead of trusting a hookup app like Grindr to keep minors away, but there are some 18-20 year olds who look like 13-15 years old, not kidding. I’m a cashier and see it all the time. I see this kid trying to buy cigarettes or an R rated movie and I ask for their ID. and then I get dumbfounded upon seeing that they are indeed of age. And yes, I can tell the difference between real and fake IDs. so sometimes, you get surprised at how old people are (conversely, you can also be surprised by how young a person who looks older actually is)

      Aug 30, 2014 at 11:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • isxios

      Simple solution when you meet someone that young, whether he looks 18/19 or not, always ask to see an ID. Maybe it feels awkward, but not as awkward as explaining it to a judge. Another solution, date men your own age or close. Enough with this youth fixation.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99

      The guy at the very least is a twink chaser. Although, I’m pretty sure he knew he was was just a kid and probably wet himself when meeting him. Just remember that this would not have been a concern for the guy had he not been caught.

      I wonder what kind of set up this was though. Something like Chris Hansen “to catch a predator”.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 12:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SportGuy


      I use to love that ” to catch a predator” show, it was hilarious to watch all this pervert guys trying to talk their way out of the situation.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99

      @SportGuy: Yeah, whenever someone offers you some sweet tea it’s time to run. Lol

      Aug 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CCTR

      Are people really carding their hook ups at the door? As if there is no such thing as a fake id card. That is funny, but if it is true I guess it could prevent a situation like this where the guy is facing up to 20 years in prison.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SportGuy


      I laughed every single time they decoy say ” I made some sweet tea, its on the counter”!! So I guess perverts love sweet tea for some reason,lol.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 6:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • isxios

      There are fake ID’s, but at least do something. Check the ID, and maybe if he looks that young say no, sorry, no can do. But like some have already said, this guy was looking for that, this is just his way of denying it.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 6:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LilMesican

      Where is the “Other Adult” in this scenario? I have to say that, I do speaking engagements at Junior High and High Schools and some of these 13 year old kids look much older than that. Never mind taller than me.
      Having been a promiscuous kid, yes some blame can be placed on the kid, but the adult who brought him along is the real abuser in this case. The kid probably just wants some attention and this is the easiest way.
      Grindr just made it easier for all parties to come together, but the gentleman suing agreed to go along with the hook-up. I don’t think he intentionally went into it looking for a kid, but he stuck around for it.
      I think probation and not jail time would be good.

      Aug 30, 2014 at 10:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • actiondude

      don’t laugh guys, it could happen to you in some form. I used to have VERY strange neighbors (husband, wife and some guy I assumed was a room mate) and we did NOT get along. I got into a physical altercation with them one day, the husband and the room mate. we filed charges against each other but MY charges were larger because I had “physically assaulted a minor.” HUH?!

      turns out the “room mate” was actually their 14 year old son. I had NO IDEA he was only 14….the guy was my height (6’1″) and had a full beard! I could tell he was a young guy but a MINOR?!?! I had no idea. well it was too bad for him. 14 or not, you get in MY face you get knocked the fuck out.

      anyway, my charges are neither here nor there; we were equally guilty, both cases were thrown out. the take-away here is this: some young guys and girls LEGITIMATELY could pass for people of legal age.

      Aug 31, 2014 at 5:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • onthemark

      @actiondude: Wow, that’s scary!

      Right now I’ve got on the movie “Catch Me If You Can” where DiCaprio is a 16 and 17 year old who impersonates airline pilots, doctors, lawyers & so on, & cheats a prostitute with a phony cashier’s check (she ends up paying HIM $400 for sex, lol) – based on a true story. Well of course that guy had several fake IDs!

      Aug 31, 2014 at 1:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mokuhulu

      You think a person’s age is obvious? It isn’t. at 30 I was carded numerous times for entry into a place you only needed to be 18 Several years earlier, I had a foster son; who at 13 looked older than me and at 6′ 2″ and full facial hair – caused so much confusion to people around me when he called me dad. I’m 5’5″ I was 26 at the time and couldn’t grow a mustache to save my life. It feels odd to tell someone like that they can’t date I tell you.Not knowing the particulars, I can’t judge. Its possible that he thought he could get a free buy to play with a kiddie but I don’t know that and neither does anyone else who isn’t involved.

      Aug 31, 2014 at 5:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • grethomory

      This guy is full of crap. There is no way you can’t tell a 13 year old from an 18 year old. I’ll give him the benefit that maybe he looked older for his age, but when you speak to a 13 year old their conversational skills are not the same as an 18 year old. I would give him more room to error if it were a 16 or 17 year old, but not 13.

      Aug 31, 2014 at 10:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive

      @grethomory, you obviously haven’t spoken to many 18-year olds lately. :)

      Sep 1, 2014 at 9:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • edwardnvirginia

      IF queers are now arguing – as some are arguing in this blog – that they are not responsible, in their personal lives and personal decisions, for the well being of juveniles, or other vulnerable persons – does that not fuel arguments opposing adoption rights for queer people? and fuel many other arguments regarding the cohesion of society that includes queers for all the same rights and responsibilities? Sex-seeking juveniles are still juveniles. They are to be protected by all in society from harms that they encounter even if they are inappropriate in their sex-seeking. Adults are to be responsible for ensuring the best interest of juveniles under the law. If some queers want children to be able to consent to sex they need to go to their legislatures and openly seek to get the laws changed as they would like. Quite a public forum that would be, aye?!: “Equality Name-the-State seeks to allow adolescents to consent to sex with adults”

      Sep 1, 2014 at 10:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Merv

      @edwardnvirginia: Gay people, as all people, are legally responsible for not having sex with anyone underage, and morally responsible for not taking advantage of anyone’s inexperience, even if it is legal. We’re not responsible for acting as parents for individuals we are not related to. Even if we disagree with it, it’s not our place to impose our morality on a relative stranger who is making an informed decision that is not illegal.

      Sep 1, 2014 at 11:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • edwardnvirginia

      @Merv: Thank you for input. It does help advance the discussion. Nonetheless it does not discuss the salient moral and legal issue: capacity and competence to give consent. That is the underlying foundation for saying – in morality and in the law – that juveniles CANNOT give consent: they are presumed to be in-capable because of im-maturity to give consent, and in-competent under the law to give consent. What about adults who are in-capable because of mental illness or active substance use (the classic example: sex with someone who is drunk or drugged), and/or in-competent under the law (e.g. sex with someone who has intellectual disability).

      Sep 2, 2014 at 5:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • milwguy

      Apparently, Grindr also needs to screen for idiots. In addition to verifying age they should verify your decision making skills.

      Sep 2, 2014 at 10:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JustaThought

      At 13, I was sexually active (with 30-40 year old guys), could walk into a bar or liquor store without ever getting carded.
      Yes, it’s true that ‘most’ children of 13 still look like children, not all do.

      I don’t condone the encounter, but might understand it.

      Oh, and before anyone starts calling me a pedophile, I’m now 48 and still only prefer to have sex with a guy who is 49… (my husband of almost 20 years).

      Sep 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • OhHellNo

      The Dozer case involved Jack’d, not Grindr. Google, people!

      May 19, 2015 at 4:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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