A man who served as the face of a dating website for supporters of President Trump has been found to have been convicted for having sex with an underaged girl.
Barrett Riddleberger and his wife, Jodi of Guilford County, North Carolina were the first thing greeting visitors to Trump.dating.
The Riddlebergers have been active in Guilford County Republican politics over the years. Jodi Riddleberger co-founded C4GC, Conservatives for Guilford County, and she and her husband have both donated money to the group.
The site has gotten some media coverage recently, primarily because it's designed to serve only straight people, letting people sign up only if they choose "straight man" or "straight woman" at the outset. Some reports have also noted that, once a person gets past the initial sign-up page, he or she can choose "happily married" or "unhappily married" as a status before finalizing a profile and meeting new potential dates.
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) February 17, 2018
Barrett Riddleberger said in a text message Monday that the marital status issue was a mistake and was being fixed by a programmer. Just what role he and his wife have in the site is unclear. He offered to discuss the site with WRAL News, but only if the station promised to write about "the present, not the past."
WRAL News would not agree to that. Riddleberger's past includes a felony conviction for taking indecent liberties with a child in in 1995. The charge stemmed from his videotaping himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 25, the Greensboro News & Record reported in 2014.
A North Carolina criminal history check Monday turned up no serious charges on Riddleberger's record since then. He said he's been married for 22 years.
"I've already paid my debt for something I did 25 years ago," he said.
It's unclear who created the Trump.dating website. Riddleberger refused to answer most questions. A press release announcing the site's creation and a paid-for blogpost on the right-leaning Daily Caller website circulated within the past few weeks quoting a Sean McGrossier as the website's founder and owner. Attempts to locate him Monday were not successful.
The site is part of chain of dating sites tied to Friends Worldwide, which owns an entity called WhiteBoxDating. WhiteBox lets people create their own niche dating websites, providing the template and technical support for an initial fee and at least a 50 percent commission on gross income, according to the service's website.
The sites charge $24.99 for a month's membership or $101.94 for six months, prices set by Friends Worldwide, according to the service. Emails to various addresses associated with WhiteBox and Friends Worldwide went unreturned Monday.
The Trump dating site, which incorporates the president's well-known hair into its logo, says it's "wrecking the dating game and giving like-minded Americans a chance to meet without the awkwardness that comes with the first conversation about politics."
"We believe that, by matching patriotic and political viewpoints as a base foundation of the relationship, it will allow one to focus on what really matters – conversation, commonalities, and if all goes well, courting," the site states. "Being with someone who shares the same core standards is absolutely essential if you're truly searching for a real, life-changing relationship."
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