Crime

Teenager And Registered Sex Offender Has His Sentence Thrown Out

| by Meg O'Connor

A district judge in Elkhart, Indiana, has vacated the sentence of a 19-year-old man who had sex with a 14-year-old girl who had told him that she was 17.

One of the two probation departments that has monitored Zach Anderson since he was released from jail in July called the teenager on Sept. 8 to inform him of the news.

Anderson had met the girl online using the dating app Hot or Not. The two first met in December 2014 when he picked her up from her home in Niles, Michigan. It wasn't until later that he discovered the girl was 14, reports South Bend Tribune.

In April, district judge Dennis Wiley sentenced Anderson to 90 days in jail, five years on probation and 25 years on Michigan's sex offender registry — even though both the girl and her mother had begged the judge and the prosecutor to be lenient with Anderson. 

As a convicted sex offender, a number of restrictions were imposed on the teenager as part of his probation. He is forbidden from owning a smartphone or using the Internet for the next five years, nor is he allowed to talk to anyone younger than 17, except for immediate family. He has an 8 p.m. curfew every night, is forbidden from going to anywhere that serves alcohol, and is forbidden from leaving his county without permission. 

As a result of his sentencing, Anderson had to give up his computer science major at Ivy Tech. Anderson will not be off the sex offender registry until 2040, reports ABC News.

Anderson's case caused public outcry and highlighted problems with Michigan's sex offender registry. Due to sex offender registry restrictions, Anderson could no longer live in his parents home, so his parents had to buy a house on the other side of town for their teenage son to live in alone.

The judge who initially sentenced Anderson has recused himself from the case and granted a motion brought by the teenager's legal team for re-sentencing. A different judge will be selected to re-sentence the case.

Anderson currently remains on the sex offender registry in both Michigan and Indiana, but his family hopes this will change.

Sources: South Bend Tribune, ABC News, The Elkhart Truth / Photo credit: Screenshot via ABC News