Teen Has Sex With Girl, 14, Gets Punishment on 'Steroids'

Zach Anderson's case adds to anger over sex-offender laws
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2015 6:45 PM CDT
Teen Has Sex With Girl, 14, Gets 'Severe' Punishment

A teenager's punishment for sleeping with an underage girl has sparked yet another effort in the movement to reform sex-offender laws, the New York Times reports. Last December, 19-year-old Zachery Anderson of Elkhart, Indiana, met a girl on the dating app Hot or Not, met her in person on Dec. 19, and had sex with her at a Michigan playground. Worried about her whereabouts, the girl's mother called police—who eventually arrested Anderson because the girl was 14, not 17 like she'd told him. Anderson pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct, was sentenced in April to 90 days in jail, and has been placed on a sex-offender registry for 25 years, reports WNDU. He'll be out on Thursday and will have to keep away from public places and allow authorities to search his home every three months. And during his 5-year probation, Anderson can't own a computer, use a smartphone, or continue his computer-related degree, the South Bend Tribune reports. WNDU noted in May he had to abandon his major and would probably lose his scholarship.

Anderson's parents, the girl, and her mother all appealed for leniency, and Michigan has a law (the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act) that actually allows first-time offenders between ages 17 and 21 to receive a lighter sentence. But instead the judge lectured Anderson about online hookups: "Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara," he said. "Totally inappropriate behavior." The head of an advocacy group aiming to reform sex-offender laws says Anderson's case (she terms it a conviction "on steroids") is common, and often ruins people's careers. But changing laws is difficult, Brenda V. Jones says, because lawmakers are nervous about being "soft on sex offenders." Meanwhile, Anderson's family is trying to find him a new home to accommodate sex-offender laws while their lawyer tries to withdraw Anderson's guilty plea; an Aug. 5 hearing is planned. (See why sex offenders have their own city.)

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