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Evidence shows cardiologist remained on dating app for nearly 3 years after rape allegation

Douglas County Sheriff's Office/Facebook/KCNC
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By Brian Maass

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    DENVER, Colorado (KCNC) — A paper trail of emails and text messages show Denver doctor Stephen Matthews, who was the subject of a rape accusation in September 2020, somehow managed to repeatedly maintain a profile on the dating app Hinge, even after a woman contacted the app to report.

“I was raped … after a first date with an individual I met and communicated with via Hinge,” a victim said.

Although Hinge administrators told the woman in 2020 and 2021 they had “banned” Matthews from their app, he somehow managed to maintain a presence on the app for three years and was able to meet, and date numerous other women.

Through his lawyer, Dr. Matthews has maintained that he did nothing wrong or illegal.

Eva Galperin, director of cyber security for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says what occurred serves as a reminder for women using online dating apps.

“If bad people can use your app and log into it, that is a policy failure,” Galperin said. “Dating apps need to be much more careful about watching out for abuse and keeping abusive people off their apps.”

Matthews, 35, was charged with three felony sex assault counts in April 2023 after a woman he met through Hinge says she drank with him back in January, then blacked out and lost all memory of their “date.”

She says a rape test the next day showed she had sexual intercourse, which she says she does not remember.

According to an arrest affidavit for Matthews, he told police he and the woman had “consensual sex.”

His attorney, Douglas Cohen, previously said the case is a “rush to judgment” and is a matter of “buyer’s remorse” and “tall tales.”

But a CBS News Colorado investigation is raising questions about what precisely Hinge did when the app was first warned about Matthews in 2020.

A Denver woman said she agreed to meet Matthews after connecting with him on Hinge. But she said after drinking a small amount with him on September 28, 2020, she blacked out at his home and the next thing she remembers is waking up naked on his floor.

She said she yelled at him, “What did you do?” and fled from his home. Text messages show she messaged a relative, “I think there’s a good chance something very bad just happened to me.”

She underwent a rape test which she said showed she had sexual intercourse.

After reporting the incident to Hinge, she received a response from the dating site on September 29.

“We received your report,” reads the email from Hinge Trust & Safety. The response went on to say, “It is currently being addressed and acted on by our team. We take abuse reporting very seriously, and we’ll be taking immediate steps.”

Three months after that complaint, the woman was again on the app and said the dating site “matched” her again with Matthews.

According to an email to the site on January 30 2021, she wrote, “This is the second time I am reporting this. I was raped and subsequently hospitalized after a first date with an individual I met and communicated with via Hinge. He still exists within your ecosystem and is posing as a potential threat to other women within the Hinge community.”

She attached a link to Matthews’ dating profile.

Half an hour later, a representative from Hinge emailed her back.

“I see that you reported this person in September 2020 and we permanently banned him from Hinge on the same day,” wrote the Hinge rep. “It appears that he created a new account using completely different login credentials. We have now permanently banned that account and taken additional steps to ensure that he permanently stays off Hinge.”

But multiple women have shared with CBS News Colorado that within the past three years, they also met and dated Matthews, after connecting with him through his Hinge profile, well after the site promised he had been permanently banned.

“Their ban is essentially meaningless,” Galperin said.

“Not only was their ban extremely ineffective, it was circumvented in a way they could very easily have predicted,” said the cyber security expert. “Bad actors in the space are working very hard to circumvent anything that these dating apps do in order to identify abuses and keep them off of their sites.”

A spokesperson for Hinge turned down an interview request and despite multiple inquiries from CBS News Colorado, did not explain how a person “permanently banned” from their site managed to continue to maintain a presence on the dating app.

“As soon as our support team receives any concerning report of behavior on or off the app, we immediately take action and remove the account while we look into the report. When a user reports an assault, we quickly follow up with them via email to confirm that the person has been banned.. we continue to invest in ways to keep our community as safe and protected as possible,” the Hinge spokesperson said.

The statement is of little consolation to the woman who said she met Matthews through Hinge in late 2022 or early 2023 and then went on a date with him that led to a rape charge.

“If they had listened to the multitude of reports about this person and banned him in the first place, I would not be sitting here today having this conversation. I should never have been able to match with him. He should never have been able to make another account,” said the woman.

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