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Man Used Christianmingle.com to Meet His Rape Victim, Police Say

Sean Banks of Del Mar was arrested Monday on suspicion of rape, La Mesa residential burglary.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. Feb. 15, 2013

Investigators sought Friday to determine if a Del Mar man accused of raping a La Mesa woman he met through Christianmingle.com had additional alleged victims.   

Sean Patrick Banks, 37, was arrested Monday and jailed on suspicion of two sex-assault charges and a count of residential burglary.

Two days later, he pleaded not guilty to the allegations, posted $500,000 bail and was released from custody on his own recognizance, authorities say.

The woman, who is in her 20s, did not know Banks’ real name, and it took
detectives several months to identify him as the suspected assailant, police said.

Using the online moniker “Rarity,” Banks got in touch with the alleged victim on the Christian dating site and then visited her La Mesa home, where he allegedly raped her, said police Lt. Matt Nicholass.

The chief spokeswoman for Spark Networks, which owns Christian Mingle, told Patch on Friday afternoon that her Beverly Hills-based company has contacted the La Mesa Police Department and is “willing to assist in the investigation in any way we can.”

“The safety and security of our members is of critical importance to us,” said Arielle Schechtman, director of public and Community Relations for Spark. “We take tremendous precautions to protect the safety and privacy of our community members.

“In addition to having profile review experts manually review all profile text and photos submitted by members, we have also developed several proprietary automated tools to help identify questionable profiles and to eliminate fraudulent activity in our communities.”

Suspect Banks also identified himself on the website as “Rylan Butterwood” and “Rylan Harbough,” according to Nicholass.

“After further follow-up in the investigation, the La Mesa Police Department is concerned there may have been more cases (involving) other women,” the lieutenant said.   

Banks faces 36 years to life in prison if convicted of the three charges he’s facing, according to prosecutors.

His next court appearance, a readiness conference, is set for March 1. 

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call police at (619) 667-7538.

On its website, Christian Mingle says: “Safety-wise, meeting on the Net is inherently similar to meeting offline.  As long as the same standard dating precautions are followed, cyber-savvy daters can feel truly at ease while getting to know each other. The main thing to remember: trust your instincts and use common sense just like you would offline.”

Christianmingle.com—whose widely seen TV ads feature the slogan "Find God's match for you"—has a two-star rating out of five stars on the review site site reviewopedia.com.

But singleroots.com gave it a higher rating:

When we ranked Christian Mingle on dating chart, we had to give it 4 stars because when we looked at the data and how it compares in important categories next to other sites, well, it stacks up rather nicely. But that’s clinical data. We can’t factor our emotions into clinical data. And it’s our feelings about Christian Mingle that leave us a little underwhelmed.

A rival Christian dating site asks whether Christian Mingle is really Christian.

“Many would be disappointed to learn they are owned and operated by Spark Networks, which is not a Christian organization," says ChristianCrush.com.

The site goes on:

Spark operates more than 25 different dating sites displayed within this link. In reality, Spark is a large company looking to maximize profits with various niche sites, such as Christian Mingle®. In addition, several of their sites endorse unbiblical lifestyles, illustrated in links one and two.

Other Spark sites include blacksingles.com and Jdate.com, which calls itself “the premier Jewish singles community online.”

Schechtman, the Spark spokeswoman, said Christian Mingle now has 9 million members.

 —City News Service contributed to this report.

Ted February 16, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Inviting a total stranger to your home unchaperoned is a very bad idea.
Cat March 18, 2013 at 07:44 PM
I see that Christian Mingle gets a 2.8 out of 5 on this site: http://www.datingsitesreviews.com/staticpages/index.php?page=ChristianMingle.com Christian Mingle doesn't have many high reviews and if you look at most dating sites you will find the same thing. I think this is probably more the problem of what type of person dating sites attract than any one particular service.
Batman March 18, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Never trust anybody with a fake name.

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