After serving 90 days behind bars, a Michigan teen will now spend the next five years of his life without a smartphone or the Internet.
As part of a sentence for a crime he wasn’t even aware he had committed, 19-year-old Zach Anderson is banned from owning a smartphone, using the Web or talking to people under the age of 17. Additionally, Anderson will be on the on the sex offender registry for the next 25 years.
“They make me out to be a monster,” Anderson said. “I can’t even look at life regularly.”
Last month, Anderson was released from a county jail in St. Joseph, Michigan, as a convicted sex offender after being arrested last winter for having sex with a girl who claimed to be 17. The girl later admitted to police she was only 14.
The two met through the dating app, Hot or Not, on which the 14-year-old girl falsely registered as an adult, according to ABC. Anderson, who graduated high school last year, told ABC if he had known her true age, he never would have met with her.
“I wouldn’t even have gone to her house, like I literally wouldn’t have gone to her house at all,” he explained.
“I had asked her when we were messaging. I said, ‘How old are you?’ And then she had told me 17… I just got out of high school. So it’s two years' difference. I didn’t think that was a big deal or anything.”
On the night they met face-to-face, Anderson picked the girl up, and the two went to a playground where they had sex, ABC reported. Thinking her daughter was missing, the girl’s mother called police.
Reports say two months later, Anderson was approached at work by detectives and was arrested. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The girl, now 15, and her mother testified on Anderson’s behalf.
“I don’t want him to be a sex offender because he really is not,” the girl’s mother told the judge, according to court documents.
Judge Dennis Wiley disagreed, deeming the behavior “totally inappropriate.”
“There is no excuse for this, whatsoever,” Wiley said, reports Daily Mail.
Since his conviction, Anderson’s parents have been publicly fighting to have their son’s "cruel" punishment overturned in court, according to Daily Mail.
“He’s only been on earth 19 years, and his punishment is longer than he’s been alive,” Les Anderson, the young man's father, said.
Anderson’s defense lawyers are working on an appeal and the family is scheduled to return to court next week, according to Daily Mail.