Elkhart Teen Challenges Sex Offender Sentence

Sex Offender Sentence News

“The whole registry is a horrible mistake. I think it’s utterly ridiculous to take teenage sex and make it a felony. This guy is obviously not a pedophile.”
~ William Buhl, a former judge in Michigan
As reported by The New York Times

A teenager who has been sentenced to 25 years of the sex offenders list is gaining national attention. Why? Many feel that his punishment was too harsh for his crime.

The Incident in Question

According to an article published by The New York Times, it was back in December when Zachery Anderson met a girl through the dating app, Hot or Not. He was 19-years-old at the time of the encounter, and the girl he met said she was 17. Soon he drove into Michigan to pick her up from her home. The police reported that they went to a playground in Niles and had sex.

In Michigan, the age of consent is 16. Anyone under the age of 16 is considered unable to consent to sex.

What Zachery Anderson didn’t know was that the girl he had met on the Hot or Not dating app had lied about her age. She was not 17 like she had said. She was 14.

Soon the girl’s mother, who was unsure of her daughter’s whereabouts, contacted the police. According to the South Bend Tribune, the girl suffers from epilepsy and her mother was afraid she would miss her dose and possibly have a seizure.

The Sentence Given

Zachery’s defense attorney recommended that he plead guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree. Zachery would then be eligible for the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. This act is designed to help youth between the ages of 17 and 20 to avoid a criminal record by pleading guilty and being placed in prison or on probation without conviction.

The Elkhart Truth reported that part of the plea deal included that Assistant Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney Jerry Vigansky would not make and recommendations to the judge about leniency in sentencing. However, Anderson reported to The Elkhart Truth that Vigansky argued against applying for the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.

Judge Dennis Wiley denied giving Zachery Anderson the Holmes Youth for Act status and sentenced him to what many believe to be a harsh sentence.

Zachery Anderson was released from jail after spending 90 days there. His first stop after his release was to his probation officer. Zachery will have to register for the sex offenders list for the next 25 years. This, according to The New York Times, will require him to allow searches to his home every 90 days.

He was also sentenced to stay off the Internet for 5 years. This part of the sentence is a significantly low blow since Zachery was studying computer science at the local community college. He can only use a computer for school and according to an article by The Elkhart Truth, cannot have a Smartphone or any other device connected to the Internet.

In addition, according to The Elkhart Truth:

  • He is unable to have contact with anyone under the age of 17, excluding his siblings.
  • He cannot living within a 1,000 feet or a school.
  • He has an 8 pm – 6 am daily curfew

The Fight Continues

Zachery Anderson along with his parents are fighting the sentence. The Elkhart Truth reported,

“That is our goal: to get him off the list and be able to function as a normal person in society, be able to live his life like any other person. Because at the end of the day, this is the old-fashioned scarlet letter,” Les Anderson says. He went on: “My son, he’s not a danger to anybody. He’s not dangerous to society. … He’s not going to hurt a little girl. That’s not going to happen.”

What Do You Think?

Should the judge rethink his sentence? Should the girl’s lie about her age garner a lesser sentence? Should a teenager spend the next 25 years on the sex offenders registry for a consensual sexual encounter with someone he thought was of age?

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

For more interesting reading, check out How to Remove Your Name from the Sex Offender Registry.