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Actress' Suit Against Dating Service Rejected

August 14, 2003|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a "Star Trek" actress' lawsuit against dating service, ruling that a fake Internet profile posted with the star's image was not the company's fault.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said personal profile information published on Matchmaker's service is solely up to the user's discretion and the company is immune from the lawsuit.

Christianne Carafano, who uses the stage name Chase Masterson, has appeared in numerous films and television programs, most notably starring as the alien character "Leeta" on the TV series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

Carafano sued Matchmaker after learning that a randy online profile using her photos had been created in 1999.

The profile included her home address, telephone number and text indicating she sought a dominant man with "a strong sexual appetite."

Carafano received several calls and e-mails from would-be suitors, who believed the popular actress was looking for a date online.

She said she began to feel unsafe in her home and moved to hotels in Los Angeles for months with her son.

Matchmaker removed the phony profile, but not until days after the initial request from Carafano's representatives.

"I am shocked, and I'm devastated," Carafano said in an interview. "It's obvious that Matchmaker participated in the creation of the profile which listed my home address in combination with blatant sexually explicit lies -- a dangerous combination."

"As a result, I received a note from someone threatening to brutally stalk and rape me and kill my son," she said. "Matchmaker was not a passive vehicle."

Carafano said she would appeal the court's decision.

Matchmaker is operated by Terra Lycos. Calls seeking comment from the company were not immediately returned.

After Carafano sued, alleging invasion of privacy and defamation, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted Matchmaker's request for summary judgment. The court rejected most of Carafano's claims.

Carafano appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court's ruling.

In the appeals court opinion, written by Judge Sidney R. Thomas, the three-judge panel agreed that "as long as a third party willingly provides the essential published content, the interactive service provider receives full immunity regardless of the specific editing or selection process."

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