The website Trump.Dating attracted some controversy last weekend for allowing users to describe themselves as married but not LGBT. But just like the president himself allows no controversy to go untopped, last night it was reported that one of the site's homepage models is a convicted sex criminal.
On Monday, Barrett and Jodi Riddleberger of North Carolina were the smiling couple sporting Trump baseball caps on the first page of Trump.Dating, reports WRAL News. Both are active in North Carolina Republican politics. In 1995, Barrett received a felony conviction of taking indecent liberties with a child, for videotaping himself having sex with a 15 year old when he was 25, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
When WRAL reached Barrett Riddleberger Monday night, he offered to discuss Trump.Dating but only if the questions were about the "present, not the past." The station declined those conditions. It's unclear what role he and his wife play in the site, and Barrett Riddleberger wouldn't explain.
A North Carolina criminal check turned up no charges on Riddleberger since the felony sex offense, WRAL reports. "I've already paid my debt for something I did 25 years ago," said Barrett, who added he had be married to Jodi for 22 years.
As of Tuesday, he was out of at least one modeling gig. Barrett and Jodi were replaced on the Trump.Dating homepage with a stock photo of a Trump-hatless couple.
As first reported over the weekend by the UK's Pink News, Trump.Dating is an apparently genuine matchmaking site for the #MAGA set with a few retrograde features. While industry heavy-hitters like OKCupid and Match.com long ago welcomed gay and bisexual singles, you have to identify as straight to use Trump.Dating, and although Ashley Madison had previously cornered the market on infidelity, Trump.Dating allows you to list your status as "happily married" or "unhappily married."
Barrett Riddleberger said Monday that the sexual orientation issue was a programming glitch and would be fixed.
The site is owned by Miami-based Friends Worldwide, a company that runs 75 interest-focused dating sites. It's unclear if there is any affiliation with any group connected to Trump.
But the nationalistic notes constantly struck by the Trump administration are visible throughout Trump.Dating. The Wisconsin Gazette reported that the site once included the phrase "Deport liberals from your love life" (although it's apparently been taken down) and the ethnicity options are unusually specific: Users are given the option of choosing "Scandinavian," "Polynesian," "Eastern European" and "Eskimo," a term that is now considered offensive and inaccurate.