Zach Anderson only wants to be a normal teenager – but it looks like his chance at that is shot. At 19, Anderson is now a registered sex offender in two states (Indiana and Michigan), and his name and personal information will live on the sex offender registry for at least the next 25 years.
Anderson, according to a CNN report, can no longer be around his 15-year-old brother. He can’t be close to any children, for that matter. He can’t go to the mall or log onto the Internet unless it’s for school. Oh, and he can’t have a smartphone, either.
What exactly happened? Anderson used a dating app called Hot or Not to meet up with a young woman he ended up having sex with. The problem? The girl claimed to be 17, but was actually only 14. Anderson has said he “wouldn’t even have gone to her house, like I literally wouldn’t have gone to her house at all” if he’d known her true age.
Authorities learned about the escapade and Anderson was promptly arrested. He was locked up for 90 days, given five years probation, and put on the offender registry for 25 years, according to CNN.
The teenage girl appeared in court alongside her mother. Both pleaded with a judge that they did not believe Anderson belonged on the list. The teen even wrote a letter, obtained by CNN, that read, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I’m not. I want to be in trouble and not you.”
But not the letter, nor the plea helped to sway the judge. CNN claims the judge who sentenced Anderson was angry that the boy was using the Internet to meet girls in the first place. Judge Dennis Wiley said, “Meet, have sex, hook up, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever.”
Another judge in a neighboring state spoke out to say he doesn’t agree with the sentence. Judge William Buhl spoke out to CNN and said, “If we caught every teenager that violated our current law, we’d lock up 30 or 40 percent of the high school. We’re kidding ourselves.”
As for Anderson, CNN says he has another court hearing where his attorney will attempt to mitigate his sentence. For now, everything stands.
Anderson’s family continues to stand behind him, even creating yellow t-shirts that read Justice 4 Zach. They are hoping the money raised by the shirts will offset some of the legal costs associated with this case, reports the Elkhart Truth.
Do you think this teen’s sentence was fair?
Read more: CNN
Read more: Elkhart Truth