A father-of-three has been found guilty of raping five women and sexually assaulting two others after meeting them on Match.com.
Jason Lawrance, described as a “sexual predator” who had contacted thousands of women online, committed several of the attacks months after marrying someone he had met on the dating website.
The 50-year-old had joined the internet dating service in 2009 – and although four of his victims complained to Match.com, one of the women was told the company could not do anything because he had not sent any abusive messages through the website.
During the trial, prosecutors depicted Lawrance as a Jekyll And Hyde character that would target “vulnerable, naive and lonely women” who were often divorced or widowed.
He was only arrested in November 2014 – nearly three-and-a-half years after the first attack took place – because a friend of a woman he had raped went to the police.
Derby Crown Court heard how one of Lawrance’s victims feared she would never see her children again when she was driven to a “pitch black” field and raped in the back of a van.
Another recalled how Lawrance had tried to continue as normal in the moments after the attack – by asking whether he could have another cup of tea before he left.
Lawrance had denied any wrongdoing throughout the trial, prompting a prosecutor to say: “A wicked lie by all seven women? That’s a desperately unlucky coincidence for you.”
Detective Chief Inspector Allison Rigby, from Derbyshire Police, said: “Only Jason Lawrance will know how many people he has sexually assaulted – it is possible there are other people out there.”
She has called for dating websites to ensure they have a “robust process” for dealing with such complaints in the future so the accounts of alleged offenders can be removed in a “timely manner”.
A spokeswoman for Match.com said it has the “most heartfelt concern” for Lawrance’s victims, and that “the safety of our members is our highest priority”.
She stressed the website “invests heavily” in technology designed to find those who try and exploit users, adding: “We also encourage everyone to use the same common sense meeting people with our app or online as they would if they were meeting through friends or in a pub or bar.”
Lawrance was remanded in custody ahead of being sentenced on Thursday morning.