There are thousands of instances in which happy couples can share that they found each other through internet dating. Finding your significant other on a computer screen is becoming more common, as one popular dating site even touts that one in five relationships now start online. While this chance for “happily ever after” is an appealing one, participants are wise to use discretion and proceed with caution. People can pretend to be whoever they want on the internet. Sometimes, the reality behind the charming persona is disturbing.
Sean Banks of California was arrested late last month on charges of rape by force, digital penetration by force, and residential burglary involving a woman who he met through the dating site ChristianMingle.com. He used an alias on the site, and authorities since have learned that this was a common practice for Banks, who relied on several different fake names in his efforts to meet women through the internet. And, it is thought that these aliases represent other instances in which Banks has attempted or succeeded in accosting other women.
In fact, another woman who Banks met through the same website, Victoria Kinney, came forward this past week to share that Banks had admitted to her, when the time came to make plans to meet in person for the first time, that he had been arrested for rape. Kinney, a 2012 contestant in the Miss California pageant, claims that her instincts about Banks raised alarms from the start and that he had threatened her not to speak up about what he had shared with her while he was out on bail.
Banks has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces. His attorney has portrayed him as an upstanding graduate student and former member of the United States Navy and, of course, he is innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, though, he faces thirty-six years to life for his alleged crimes.
If you so choose, enjoy the possibilities to meet new people that online dating provides. But, please keep those first meetings public and trust your gut when you sense your safety may be in jeopardy.
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