Caught in the 'Net

The Web site Don't Date Him Girl outs cheaters -- but who's lying, the guys or their accusers?

Let's call today's cheater Ralph. We're not, so we won't use his real name. Or his picture, for that matter.

But if you went to the six-month-old site on March 14, 2006, you'd see that Ralph is the featured cheater. Click on his name, and you'd see a pic of Ralph of Norfolk, wearing his Black Sabbath T-shirt and sideways baseball cap. His head is cocked slightly back and up, his forearms down and facing the camera, so you can see his wicked tats. It's a hackneyed worship-me pose; something Scott Stapp might do when he's not banging hookers with Kid Rock.

"[Ralph] and I were married for 2 year," the accompanying text begins (proper grammar is as rare as Bigfoot on this site). "I had given up so much for him. I moved away from my family and friends to be with him...One day he came home and said that I needed to go home. Well, come to find out he had a girlfriend. They had been seeing each other a few months..."

See, Ralph is just the sort of lying bastard this site was created to expose. The hope is that women in the greater Norfolk area will run away screaming if ever they encounter Ralph.

And Ralph's anonymous accuser adds this tidbit: "He had a girlfriend when we started going out. I guess once a cheater always a cheater!!!"

He had a girlfriend when we started going out.

That's right, she participated in the cheating; has its share of "other women" who don't have to reveal their names or faces.

The posters don't even have to prove their accusations. Domestic abuse, herpes, child molestation, hidden marriages, down-low homosexual encounters, penis size -- it's all fair game. Some testimonies, if true, are genuinely heartbreaking. And the site itself is riveting; the perfect workday-wasting guilty pleasure. There's just no way to tell whether the people who post are completely full of it.

Tasha Joseph says she was cheated on twice in college. Lucky for those guys, she didn't create DDHG until 14 years later.

"I can definitely relate to what it feels like to be cheated on, and it's not a good feeling," the 33-year-old Joseph says from Miami. "And had there been a Web site like this back when I was in college, I definitely would have used it to warn other women about these guys."

Joseph, a publicist and former Miami Herald reporter, says the idea was born one night when she and her girlfriends were sharing tales of infidelity. She launched the site in late 2005, and while there are only about 1,000 profiles right now, Joseph used her media savvy to bring her Web site to The New York Times, the Today show, Fox News and others. In April, she will launch, as well as a weekly podcast.

Women who post to the site must check a box indicating that the information is truthful. Joseph and her attorney say they are protected from libel charges by federal law, and it appears they're right. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 states, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

University of Houston law professor Ray Nimmer agrees, saying that Joseph is probably safe. The accusers, however, might be liable if their postings showed "reckless or intentional falsity."But, according to information on the site, the guys are not always notified of their newfound infamy. So even though they have the option to post a rebuttal, most are probably unaware they're even on there.

Again, some of the women who post to the site are cheaters themselves.

Take the accuser of Sam in L.A., who writes, "I lost a wonderful husband over my affair with this slime ball."

And the woman wronged by Alex in Alaska: "[Alex] and I worked together and became sexually involved. He said his girlfriend would never suspect him of cheating."

When asked about the prevalence of cheating women, Joseph says, "We are not here to judge what is said in these postings...What I think about those women is that even though they know what they're doing is wrong, a lot of them hold out hope that this guy is going to change, or this guy is going to leave his wife, or this guy is going to be with me...When you're in a relationship like that, when you get out of it and you realize that the guy is not going to leave his wife...that's when they come to the site to post the guy, because obviously the guy is a cheater."

Joseph writes the site's blog, which operates mostly as a sounding board for women to praise DDHG as the greatest invention in the history of the universe. However, there are critics among the commentators.

One woman writes: "If nothing else, this site exposes how daft many women are, and what stupid relationship choices they make -- and how they take no responsibility for making stupid choices -- even when the writing was on the wall from the start. How pathetic. All this site does is perpetuate further friction between men and women. Shameful, if you ask me."

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